Fact checking the fourth Democratic debate

Twelve Democratic presidential candidates took the stage for a debate in Co
Twelve Democratic presidential candidates took the stage for a debate in Westerville, Ohio, on Tuesday. Copyright Elise Wrabetz NBC News
Copyright Elise Wrabetz NBC News
By Jane C. Timm and Adam Edelman and Elizabeth Janowski with NBC News Politics
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Three hours, 12 candidates. Here's how their claims stack up.


Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate has ballooned to a dozen candidates on a single stage in Westerville, Ohio.

It's the first primary showdown since House Democrats began a formal impeachment inquiryinto President Donald Trump — and it could be the last stand for some of the candidates struggling to keep pace. As always, we'll be fact-checking the 12 contenders in real time.

See all the claims and the facts below, and check back for more updates as debate continues. Download the NBC News app for full coverage.

Did Donald Trump ask China to investigate Joe Biden 'in exchange' for favorable trade terms?

Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke said that President Donald Trump asked China to involve itself in the 2020 election "in exchange for favorable trade terms in an upcoming trade deal."

While the president surely called on China to probe possible political rival Joe Biden's family amid ongoing trade talks — he did so on television this month — he hasn't publicly hinged it on "favorable" trade terms. We have not seen a record of Trump's conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but the president has denied asking Beijing to probe the Bidens.

Asked explicitly if he'd be "more willing to do a trade deal with the Chinese" if they investigated his political rival, the president said, "No, it has nothing to do with it. No. No. I want to do a trade deal with China, but only if it's good for our country."

Julián Castro claims Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania have lost jobs. Is that true?

Early on Tuesday night, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro said that, "Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, actually, in the latest jobs data, have lost jobs, not gained them."

This doesn't appear to be true, at least when it comes to Michigan and Pennsylvania. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment — both the rate and the total number of persons who are unemployed — went down in Michigan from July 2019 to August 2019, the latest month for which state data is available.

In Pennsylvania, the unemployment rate remained the same from July 2019 to August 2019. The number of people who were unemployed increased from July 2019 to August 2019, but so did the number of people who were employed.

Castro is right about Ohio, however, where both the unemployment rate and the number of persons unemployed increased from July 2019 to August 2019.

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