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Biden And Trump Face Off In Early Debate, With Age, Ability In Focus


Biden And Trump Face Off In Early Debate, With Age, Ability In Focus

Biden-Trump Debate: Biden and Trump have made little effort to disguise their mutual dislike.


Democratic President Joe Biden and his Republican rival Donald Trump take the stage on Thursday night for a debate that will offer voters a rare side-by-side look at the two oldest candidates ever to seek the U.S. presidency.

Biden, 81, and Trump, 78, will be under pressure to display their command of issues and avoid verbal stumbles as they seek a breakout moment in a race that opinion polls show has been deadlocked for months.

The 90-minute televised debate, the first between a sitting president and a former one, will air at 9 p.m. ET (0100 GMT on Friday) on CNN and takes place far earlier than normal – more than four months before the Nov. 5 Election Day.

It comes at a moment of profound polarization and deep-seated anxiety among voters about the state of American politics. Two-thirds of voters said in a May Reuters/Ipsos poll that they were concerned violence could follow the election, nearly four years after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Trump will take the stage as a felon who still faces a trio of criminal cases, including to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The former president, who continues to falsely claim that his defeat was the result of fraud and has suggested he will punish his political enemies if returned to power, will need to convince undecided voters that he does not pose a mortal threat to democracy, as Biden asserts.

Biden arrived in Atlanta on Thursday afternoon under intense pressure to deliver a forceful performance after months of Republican assertions his faculties have dulled with age.

Ahead of the debate, the Biden campaign released a video featuring former Trump aides saying they would not support him this time. “Take it from the people who know Donald Trump best – he is unfit to be president,” Biden said on X.

Biden advisers say he will emphasize Trump’s role in threatening abortion access, portray him as a danger to democratic norms and remind voters of Trump’s often chaotic 2017-2021 term in office.

Trump will focus on the high levels of inflation and record numbers of migrants who have entered the country illegally under Biden’s watch, and will also question his world leadership at a time of war in Gaza and Ukraine, Trump advisers said.

Trump, whose plane landed in Georgia about 3-1/2 hours before the debate, posted on social media what appeared to be advice from a former member of his administration about how to respond to attacks on his environmental record. The notes from former Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler urged Trump to say he will lower carbon dioxide emissions and encourage domestic energy production.

A campaign spokesman said the post was not a mistake. “The Biden team has been previewing their attacks — albeit moronic attacks — all week,” spokesman Stephen Cheung said.


While national polls show a tied race, Biden has trailed Trump in polls of most battleground states and recently saw his financial edge erased after Trump was criminally convicted over trying to cover up hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.

“Biden needs a change in the status quo, and this debate is his best opportunity yet to do it,” said Jacob Rubashkin, an elections analyst at the nonpartisan website Inside Elections.

Neither Biden nor Trump is popular and many Americans remain deeply ambivalent about their choices. About a fifth of voters say they have not picked a candidate, are leaning toward a third-party candidate or may sit the election out, the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll showed.

“They’re horrible candidates,” said Kathy Elder, a 59-year-old sales manager who voted for Trump in 2016 before switching to Biden in 2020.

Elder said she cringes whenever they speak – for different reasons.

When it comes to Biden, she said, “Can he speed this up and actually talk?” As for Trump, she said, “What the hell is going to come out of his mouth?”

Biden and Trump have made little effort to disguise their mutual dislike. During their first debate in 2020, Trump aggressively talked over Biden in a performance that turned off many voters.

CNN will attempt to avoid cross-talk by muting the candidates’ microphones when it is not their turn. The debate will take place without an audience, and neither candidate is allowed to bring notes or props, though they will have a pen and paper.

Trump’s niece Mary Trump, who has been critical of her uncle, will join Biden’s campaign in its media spin room following the debate, a campaign official said.

The second and final debate in this year’s campaign is scheduled for September.

See a Reuters photo slide show of previous debates.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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