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Politics Joe Biden town hall: Fact-checking the Democratic nominee's answers

05:00  18 september  2020
05:00  18 september  2020 Source:   abcnews.go.com

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Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president and former vice president, appeared in a town hall held in Moosic, Pennsylvania, hosted by CNN on Thursday.

Joe Biden holding a sign: Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden answers questions from reporters during an appearance in Wilmington, Del., Sept. 4, 2020. © Kevin Lamarque/Reuters, FILE Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden answers questions from reporters during an appearance in Wilmington, Del., Sept. 4, 2020.

His appearance follows President Donald Trump's ABC News town hall with uncommitted voters on Tuesday night in Philadelphia.

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MORE: Trump's ABC News town hall: Fact-checking the president's answers a man wearing a suit and tie: Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden holds a roundtable discussion with veterans at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida, Sept. 15, 2020. © Leah Millis/Reuters Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden holds a roundtable discussion with veterans at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida, Sept. 15, 2020.

Below, ABC News fact checks what Biden said during the town hall event. Please refresh for updates:

Biden misstated attorney general's comment on slavery, lockdowns

BIDEN’S CLAIM: Former Vice President Joe Biden was asked by CNN's Anderson Cooper to respond to those "who say it's individual liberty to not wear a mask." Biden said, "Well let me tell you something. You know I -- What Bill Barr recently said is outrageous. That it’s like slavery. You're taking away freedom. I would tell you what takes away your freedom. What takes away your freedom is not being able to see your kid, not being able to go to the football game or baseball game, not being able to see your mom or dad sick in the hospital, not being able to do the things. That's what’s cost us our freedom."

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FACT CHECK: Biden seemed to be referencing comments made by Attorney General Bill Barr Wednesday at a Constitution Day celebration hosted by Michigan's Hillsdale College.

At the event, Barr said that "other than slavery" coronavirus lockdowns were "the greatest intrusion of civil liberties in American history". The attorney general's remarks got almost immediate push back from lawmakers and others who condemned his language.

MORE: AG Barr takes aim at DOJ prosecutors, compares lockdowns to slavery

But while Barr was commenting on lockdowns caused by the virus, Biden was responding to a question about wearing masks. Barr did not make any comparison between mask wearing and slavery Wednesday.

Biden was trying to call attention to Barr’s comments as at odds with American history – echoing much of the criticism the attorney general received.

Later in the town hall, Biden referenced the remarks again after Cooper asked him about them -- but incorrectly said that Barr said lockdowns were equivalent to slavery; Barr said slavery was worse.

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"Quite frankly, they're sick," Biden said of the comments. "Think about it. Did you ever think, any of you, you'd hear attorney general say that following the recommendations of the scientific community to save you and other people's lives is equivalent to slavery?"

-- Allison Pecorin

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del., Aug. 20, 2020. © Andrew Harnik/AP, FILE Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del., Aug. 20, 2020.

Biden mixes up source for impact of masks

BIDEN'S CLAIM: When Cooper asked how Biden will get the proper messaging out to all Americans to keep them informed as to how to properly protect themselves and others from this pandemic, the former vice president said that even though he does have the authority to require a universal mask mandate, he would propose safety guidelines for states to follow and implement.

"I cannot mandate people wearing masks, but we've just been told, if we should expect another 215,000 dead by January, but if we wore a mask, we would save 100,000 of those lives," Biden said. "His own CDC director contradicted him recently. He said if, in fact, you just wore this mask, nothing else but this mask, you would save between now and January another 100,000 lives."

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FACT CHECK: The current director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, has not, in fact, claimed that 100,000 lives could be saved if Americans wore masks universally.

Biden may have been referring to a former CDC director, Tom Frieden, who tweeted on Monday: “Masks work, and 100,000+ deaths in the US could quite possibly have been prevented, simply and cheaply, if we all wore masks, washed our hands, and watched our distance.”

During his Senate testimony on Wednesday, Redfield did state that masks may be a more effective protection against the coronavirus than any potential vaccine.

MORE: Trump teases vaccine distribution as public health officials say they need more money

Biden could have also been referencing a forecast model created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which predicted that if Americans wore masks universally, nearly 117,000 lives could be spared by Jan. 1, 2021.

Later in the town hall, Biden did appear to refer to the IHME model, saying there could be another 215,000 American lives lost by January. Nearly 200,000 Americans have died so far, and the IHME model currently projects there could be a total of 415,000 coronavirus related deaths in the U.S. by January.

-- Arielle Mitropoulos

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Joe Biden standing on a stage: Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden answers questions from reporters during an appearance in Wilmington, Del., Sept. 4, 2020. © Kevin Lamarque/Reuters, FILE Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden answers questions from reporters during an appearance in Wilmington, Del., Sept. 4, 2020.

Biden would not be first president without Ivy League degree

BIDEN'S CLAIM: "When you guys started talking on television about 'Biden, if he wins will be the first person without an Ivy League degree to be elected president.' I said, 'Who the hell makes you think I need an Ivy League degree to be president?' I'm not joking.”

FACT CHECK: Despite his suggestion, Biden would not be the first president without an Ivy League degree, as several presidents in the country’s history did not receive a college degree at all.

Biden would be the first president since Ronald Reagan to be elected president without an Ivy League education.

The Biden-Harris ticket is the first since the 1984 ticket of Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro to have two non-Ivy League graduates and if successful, the first winning ticket since 1976 with Jimmy Carter and Mondale.

How about: The 2020 Democratic nominees do make history with Sen. Kamala Harris as the first graduate from a Historically Black College and University to appear on a major party ticket.

-- Molly Nagle

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This is interesting!