Since the start of his long-shot presidential campaign in June, former Vice President Mike Pence has struggled to gain traction among Republican primary voters.

Mr. Pence has consistently polled in the single digits behind the two main challengers: his former running mate, former President Donald J. Trump, and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida. The former vice president broke with them most harshly over their approaches to Social Security and Medicare. He has also carved out clear positions supporting a 15-week national abortion ban and wholeheartedly supporting US involvement in the war in Ukraine.

Mr. Pence made some inaccurate claims along the way. Here’s a fact-check of some of his recent remarks on the campaign trail.

What Mr. Penny Said

“I, this week, called on every other candidate for the Republican nomination to support a minimum standard of a 15-week ban on abortion at the national level, which would bring US law into line with most of the countries in Europe that literally ban abortion after 12 to 15 weeks. Our laws at the national level today are more in line with North Korea, China and Iran than with other Western countries in Europe.”
– in a June interview on Fox News Sunday

This is misleading. Mr. Pence’s comparison is overly simplistic and overlooks how abortion laws in Europe work in practice. It’s also worth noting that many European countries are moving toward relaxing abortion restrictions, not imposing more, as The Upshot reported.

From about four dozen countries in Europe, almost everything legalized elective abortion before 10 to 15 weeks of pregnancy. All of these countries allow abortions after the pregnancy limit if the mother’s life is in danger and about half do so for cases involving sexual violence — two exceptions that Mr. Pence said he also supports. But many also allow for broader exceptions, such as the mother’s socioeconomic circumstances or mental health, which Mr. Pence’s proposal does not include.

In the UK, for example, an abortion must be approved by two doctors, but these requests are generally accepted up to 24 weeks. In Denmark and Germany, exceptions for pregnancy limits of 12 weeks are made for mental and physical health as well as for living conditions.

At least three countries also have more permissive pregnancy cutoffs than Mr. Pence’s proposal: Iceland at 22 weeks, Netherlands at 24 weeks and Sweden at 18 weeks.

In contrast, China allows elective abortions without specifying pregnancy limits in its national laws, according to the World Health Organization. China has also said in recent years that it will aim to reduce the number of “medically unnecessary” abortions, and at least one province has banned abortions after 14 weeks.

North Korea’s laws on abortion are unclear. In 2015, the authorities issued a directive prohibiting doctors from performing abortions, according to the World Health Organization, but “there are no documents after 2015” about the legality of the procedure.

In the United States, after the Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion last summer, the legal status of abortion varies greatly from state to state. In some, the procedure is prohibited without exceptions, and in others it is enshrined as a right without pregnancy limits. A spokesman for Mr. Pence cited nine such states as exceptionally open-ended.

What Mr. Penny Said

“Well, first of all, look, Joe Biden’s policy on our national debt is insolvent. And, unfortunately, my former running mate’s politics are identical to Joe Biden’s. Both say they won’t even talk about common sense and compassionate rights reforms to save future generations from a mountain of debt.”
– in the Fox News Sunday interview

This is exaggerated. Asked about his calls to overhaul Social Security and Medicare, Mr. Pence criticized the approaches of Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden to the social programs as irresponsible. While both said they would not cut benefits, only Mr. Biden proposed tax increases to support both programs. But equating that position to acceptance of total insolvency is exaggerated.

Currently, Social Security and Medicare both face funding shortfalls. The fund that pays for Social Security retirement benefits is projected to be exhausted by 2033, and the fund that pays hospitals for Medicare patients will be exhausted in 2031. At those points, the fund will be able to pay for only 77 percent of retirement benefits and 89 percent of scheduled fees to hospitals.

During the 2020 campaign, Mr. Biden offered increasing taxes on high-income earners to pay for additional Social Security benefits. The extra funding would reduce the program’s financial shortfall, although the revenue would not close the gap completely. Although his latest presidential budget, released in March, does not mention that proposal, it includes a plan to extend the solvency of Medicare by 25 years by imposing higher taxes on the wealthy.

Mr. Trump’s position on social safety net programs is a bit harder to determine. In January 2020, he said he would be willing to consider cuts to the social safety nets “at some point” — though he quickly tried to walk back his comments and vowed to protect Social Security. His last presidential budget proposal, in February 2020, did not cut benefits to either program, but sought Medicare savings through a dozen tweaks such as reducing payments to providers and reducing the cost of prescription drugs.

More recently, Mr. Trump promised in a speech in March at the Conservative Political Action Conference that “we will never go back” to proposals to raise the Social Security retirement age or cut Medicare benefits. But Mr. Trump has yet to outline his stance on either program in more detail or address their resolution issues in this campaign cycle.

The Pence campaign argued that neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Biden has a current plan for Social Security, and that Mr. Biden’s plan for Medicare only delays the funding shortfall.

What Mr. Penny Said

“I mean, when I informed the Department of Justice that we had classified materials possibly in our home, they were at my home. The FBI was at my front door the next day. And what we found out is, when Joe Biden apparently alerted the Department of Justice, 80 days later, they showed up at his office.
— at a CNN town hall in June

This is exaggerated. After the discovery of classified documents in their personal residences, Mr. Pence and Mr. Biden both cooperated with government investigations. Mr. Pence notes that the Justice Department’s responses to the revelations were not identical, but he exaggerates the differences.

In the case of Mr. Biden, the searches took place a few weeks – not three months – after the discovery of classified documents. In the case of Mr. Pence, the search took place about three weeks later.

On November 2, lawyers for Mr. Biden discovered confidential documents in the offices of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a think tank in Washington. On the same day, according to Biden administration officials, the lawyers alerted the National Archives and Records Administration, which is responsible for securing such documents. The next day, the National Archives took the documents and forwarded the matter to the Ministry of Justice. The FBI searched the think tank in mid-November.

On December 20, Mr. Biden’s aides discovered a second set of classified documents at his home in Wilmington, Del. The same day, they alerted the US attorney leading the investigation of the discovery. A month later, on January 20, the FBI searched the apartment and seized more documents. And on Feb. 1, the FBI searched Mr. Biden’s vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Del., but found no more classified documents.

The discovery of classified documents in Mr. Biden’s possession prompted aides to Mr. Pence to search his home in Indiana as a precaution. They found about a dozen documents with classified markings on January 16 and alerted the National Archives to the discovery in a letter dated January 18. The Justice Department, rather than the records agency, then retrieved the documents from Mr. Pence’s home on January 19. Almost a month later, on February 10, the FBI searched one more document from Pence’s home and found one more document from Pence’s home.

The Pence campaign argued that the Justice Department, by directly requesting Mr. Pence’s documents, bypassed standard procedures that did not occur in Mr. Biden’s case.

Unlike the Biden and Trump cases, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland did not appoint a special counsel to investigate Mr. Pence’s handling of classified materials. The Justice Department has also declined to prosecute Mr. Pence while the investigation into Mr. Biden continues.

What Mr. Penny Said

“Since Joe Biden took office, he has been working to reduce military spending.”
at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa in July

This is false. Mr. Biden’s annual budgets have generally called for more funding for the military, and actual spending has increased each year.

Mr. Biden’s first budget, released in 2021, proposed $715 billion for the Pentagon, essentially keeping funding level. That was a 1.6 percent increase from the previous year and a 0.4 percent decrease when adjusted for inflation. In December of that year, he signed into law a $770 billion defense package.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the proposals of Mr. Biden and congressional appropriators increased military spending even more.

The budget he released in 2022 called for $773 billion in military spending, a nearly 10 percent increase from the previous year. He later signed into law an $858 billion spending policy bill.

And Mr. Biden’s latest budget, released in March, requested $842 billion for the military, a 3.2 percent increase from the previous year, and $886 billion overall for national defense. That legislation is currently going through the appropriations process in Congress. The Pence campaign argued that this amounted to a cut, because the rate of inflation exceeds the rate of increase.

At the Iowa event, Mr. Pence cited Mr. Biden’s debt ceiling deal with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as an example of a proposed 1 percent cut to the military. Under that agreement, military spending is set at the president’s proposed amount of $886 billion and will rise to $895 billion in 2025. But all spending, both for the military and domestic programs, would be subject to a 1 percent cut if Congress does not pass annual spending bills by January.

We welcome suggestions and advice from readers about what to check by email and Twitter.

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