It’s time for a weekly fact check of North Carolina politics. This week we look at remarks by Republican state Sen. Dan Bishop of Mecklenburg County during a campaign rally held by President Trump in Greenville July 17.
It was during that rally that the crowd began chanting “send her back” as the president criticized Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. At one point during the rally, Bishop addressed the crowd and noted that his Democratic opponent in the 9th Congressional District special election, Dan McCready, accepted a campaign donation from Omar.
WFAE's "Morning Edition" host Marshall Terry spoke to Elizabeth Thompson of the Raleigh News & Observer.
Marshall Terry: So, Elizabeth, we know he did get a contribution from Omar, but Bishop left something out in his remarks.
Elizabeth Thompson: Yeah, so, my colleague Paul Specht is the one who actually reported on this that he found that McCready did get a donation from Omar but he gave back the donation after he, quote, said that he "vigorously disagree(d) with any anti-Semitic comments." And, so, he returned that, which Bishop did not mention at all.
Terry: And these anti-Semitic comments — Rep. Omar has been accused of making those?
Thompson: Yes. McCready didn't specify when he said "anti-Semitic comments" what exactly he was talking about. But she has been known for some controversial statements. In 2012 she tweeted "Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel." She has since apologized for tweeting that, but that's just one example of something that others have seen as anti-Semitic.
Terry: How much was the contribution?
Thompson: It was a $2,000 donation on Nov. 6. And, so, he tweeted about giving it back on April 17.
Terry: Why did Dan Bishop not mention that McCready gave the money back during the rally?
Thompson: When we talked to a spokesperson for Bishop, they said that it shouldn't really matter, and McCready shouldn't have taken a cent from her in the first place because of her documented history of "anti-Semitic remarks."
Terry: So, how did you rate these remarks then by Dan Bishop?
Thompson: Since McCready did get a donation from Omar but he gave it back, we decided that that was a substantial enough detail that was left out to make this statement half true.
Terry: Well, we're now going to turn to something else that came up during Trump's rally in Greenville. The president said North Carolina had its best economic year in the history of the state. Now, there are lots of ways to measure the economy. What was the president's measure here?
Thompson: So, when we contacted the Trump campaign, they gave us a list of different measures that could be used to see how the economy is doing. The one real measure that could without a doubt say that this is the "best ever" would be the total GDP. Total GDP is basically just the amount of money the state has made in all the business that's been done here.
However, an expert from Duke University basically said while this is the highest it's ever been because of population growth and because we are not in a recession, basically, that's always going to be true. So, that's really not anything groundbreaking. Other measures of the economy, such as unemployment rate, poverty levels, are doing well but they're not historic, necessarily.
So, Trump's claim had been that North Carolina's economy was the best it's ever been in the state. Because there are so many different measures of the economy, we decided not to give it a rating whether it's false or true because there are multiple different measures that you could use. But we just did an analysis of the economy instead.