Fact checking the South Carolina Democratic debate

Image: Seven Democratic presidential candidates will take the stage in a de
Seven Democratic presidential candidates will take the stage in a debate in South Carolina on Feb. 25, 2020. Copyright Chelsea Stahl NBC News
Copyright Chelsea Stahl NBC News
By Jane C. Timm with NBC News Politics
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NBC News is fact checking the contenders on stage on Charleston.


Seven candidates made the stage for Tuesday night's debate in Charleston, South Carolina, taking place days ahead of the state's Democratic primary — the first nominating contest in the South.

We're fact-checking them in real time.

When did Bloomberg scale back stop-and-frisk?

Bloomberg again claimed he reined in the use of stop-and-frisk after it got "out of control."

"We let it get out of control, and when I realized that, I cut it back by 95 percent and I've apologized and asked for forgiveness," he said.

This is still a false representation of events. Bloomberg championed and expanded the stop-and-frisk policing practice — the strategy that gave police the authority to detain people suspected of committing a crime and led to a practice of stopping mostly black and Hispanic men — during his three terms of mayor of New York City.

The practice was scaled back significantly thanks to a 2013 court order declaring the policy unconstitutional, not Bloomberg's change of heart.

Is half of America living paycheck to paycheck?

Sanders argued that the economy wasn't working for working people Tuesday, claiming that "real wage increases" were less than 1 percent for the average worker and that "half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck." Is he right?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, real average hourly earnings increased 0.6 percent for the year that ended in 2019. Meanwhile, it's true that several studies have found that roughly half of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck — here's one from this year and another from last year.

Did two states kick hundreds of thousands of people off the voting rolls?

"Wisconsin has kicked hundreds of thousands of people off of their voting rolls. Georgia kicked 100,000 off," Klobuchar said Tuesday.

It's true that Georgia recently purged 100,000 inactive voters off the voting rolls, but Wisconsin hasn't yet actually completed its purge yet: the voter registration of more than 200,000 Wisconsin voters is caught up in litigation and an appeals court put the planned purge on hold last month.

It's important to note that purges — the elimination of inactive voters off the rolls — are a normal part of roll maintenance. Voting rights activists say purges must be done carefully, however, so that active voters aren't caught up in them. There is some indication that the proposed Wisconsin voter roll purge and Georgia's aggressive purges are indeed catching active voters.

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