The facts behind debate talking points like stop-and-frisk and trade deals

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U.S. citizens and immigrants who cannot vote watch a TV broadcast of the first presidential debate between U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTSPKW5

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Last night’s much anticipated presidential debate saw record viewership and, at times, a raucous back-and-forth between the two candidates.

But for all the spectacle, how factual were their claims and accusations?

Lisa Desjardins reports, putting the debate in context.

LISA DESJARDINS: In 94 minutes last night, there were at least 94 needs for more information. Let’s start with an urgent headline right now, crime and race.

DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: You can do stop-and-frisk, which worked very well.

LISA DESJARDINS: A reminder, stop-and-frisk is a police tactic allowing officers to pat down pedestrians as a way to fight crime. Donald Trump defended it as bring order, but:

LESTER HOLT, NBC News: Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.

DONALD TRUMP: No, you’re wrong. It went before a judge who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her.

LISA DESJARDINS: In fact, Trump was wrong. Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional by one federal judge. But Trump also had a point, in that no higher courts ever ruled. New York City leaders dropped the case. There was more.

DONALD TRUMP: When you have 3,000 shootings in Chicago from January 1, when you have 4,000 people killed in Chicago by guns from the beginning of the presidency of Barack Obama, his hometown, you have to have stop-and-frisk.

LISA DESJARDINS: Those are shocking numbers. First, have there been 3,000 shootings in Chicago this year? Actually, there were more.

According to The Chicago Tribune’s Crime Project, there have been more than 3,200 shooting victims this year. And have 4,000 Chicagoans been shot dead during the Obama administration? That one may be high. The Tribune has just over 3,100 gun deaths from 2009 through 2015, and some 400 more this year.

As for Clinton, she was on defense on trade and the massive deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee: I was against it once it was finally negotiated and the terms were laid out. I wrote about that in…

DONALD TRUMP: You called it the gold standard. You called it the gold standard of trade deals. You said it’s the finest deal you have ever seen.


DONALD TRUMP: And then you heard what I said about it, and all of a sudden, you were against it.

LISA DESJARDINS: In fact, four years ago, she did call the TPP the gold standard.

HILLARY CLINTON: This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field.

LISA DESJARDINS: Now, the Trans-Pacific deal was still in outline form back then. Clinton stresses that. But her words in 2012 were unequivocal in support of the idea. After TPP was fully drafted, Clinton pulled that support.

Trade is a raw spot for voters this year. Enter another controversial deal, NAFTA.

HILLARY CLINTON: I think my husband did a pretty good job in the 1990s. I think a lot about what worked and how we can make it work again…

DONALD TRUMP: Well, he approved NAFTA…


HILLARY CLINTON: … million new jobs, a balanced budget…

DONALD TRUMP: He approved NAFTA, which is the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country.

HILLARY CLINTON: Incomes went up for everybody. Manufacturing jobs went up also in the 1990s, if we’re actually going to look at the facts.

LISA DESJARDINS: Like the candidates, economists disagree over how many jobs were created or lost by NAFTA. One widely cited study found it wiped out up to 800,000 U.S. jobs.

But a pro-trade analysis suggested NAFTA had a role in creating several million jobs by boosting trade with Canada and Mexico. Neither side may be happy, but the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service concluded that NAFTA caused neither huge job losses nor gains.

In the debate, Trump gave a specific example of jobs he sees going to Mexico.

DONALD TRUMP: So Ford is leaving. You see that, their small car division leaving. Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio. They’re all leaving.

LISA DESJARDINS: Ford, itself, called that false. The company said U.S. workers will make two new cars in the plants that used to make small cars, tweeting: “There is no impact on U.S. jobs.”

One final thing to discuss: taxes.

HILLARY CLINTON: So, you’ve got to ask yourself, why won’t he release his tax returns? Maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.

DONALD TRUMP: That makes me smart.

LISA DESJARDINS: Clinton was referring to this story from The Washington Post, which found a 1981 casino filing showing Trump paid nothing in taxes for two years.

More context: While Trump has railed against others using tax loopholes, this was his first statement indicating he may have paid nothing in taxes himself.

So, that is plenty to chew on, at least until the next presidential debate in just under two weeks.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will be talking to two representatives from the campaigns. One of our guests is delayed. We’re going to be doing that in just a moment. We will be right back.

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