Fact checking the first presidential debate

President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are facing off Tuesday night in Cleveland for their first of three debates. It’s scheduled to last 90 minutes, and we’ll be tracking where each candidate strays from the facts. Stay tuned here throughout the debate and afterward for checks on the candidates’ statements.

No, Trump isn’t protecting coverage for preexisting conditions.
“We guaranteed preexisting conditions,” Trump said.
THE FACTS: This is one of Trump’s most common falsehoods. The 2010 Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — includes the provision that bars health insurance companies from refusing to cover people with preexisting medical conditions. Trump has been calling for the entire law to be eliminated, and his administration is allied with conservative states on a lawsuit to kill it. The case is now before the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments the week after the election.
Because assured coverage for preexisting conditions is so popular, Trump repeatedly says he is ready with a substitute healthcare program that would retain the guarantee if the court strikes down the law. Yet he said he had such a plan four years ago, and neither he nor congressional Republicans have agreed on an alternative. Last week, Trump signed an executive order declaring his intention to protect people with preexisting conditions, but it otherwise does nothing.

No, Biden didn’t call Trump’s China travel ban “xenophobic.”
TRUMP: “I closed it, and you said, ‘He’s xenophobic.’”
THE FACTS: Whenever challenged about his mishandling of the coronavirus crisis, Trump points to one of his earliest decisions — restricting travel from China, where the pandemic began. However, it was not the ironclad ban that he describes. The Jan. 31 order applied only to mainland China, not Hong Kong, and it allowed tens of thousands of Americans there to return to the U.S., where screening of arrivals was spotty. Although the travel restrictions bought some time before the pandemic worsened here, public health experts say Trump squandered that by failing to prepare widespread testing and tracing to detect and isolate outbreaks.
Trump frequently claims that Biden opposed the restrictions and called them “xenophobic.” He distorts the former vice president’s comments. The day after Trump’s announcement, Biden tweeted that “we need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering.” He did not mention the ban or travel from China.

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