Biden falls flat against Trump in first 2024 US presidential debate

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Biden falls flat against Trump in first 2024 US presidential debate

President Joe Biden and Donald Trump have squared off in the first debate of the 2024 United States presidential race, seeking to pull ahead in a match-up that has, so far, been in a dead heat.

But despite delivering the opening salvo in Thursday’s event, Biden struggled to articulate his points at several moments, appearing to fumble for his words.

Meanwhile, Trump took the opportunity to redirect the conversation at several points to Biden’s perceived weaknesses, drumming up fears about immigration and the state of the economy.

He also attempted to dodge questions about whether he would honour the results of November 5’s presidential election, saying he would only do so if it was “fair” and “free” – and then reiterating false claims that the 2020 election was rigged.

“The fraud and everything else was ridiculous,” he said at one point, casting doubt on President Biden’s win in 2020.

Trump currently faces two criminal indictments – one in Georgia and another in Washington, DC – over his alleged attempts to subvert those election results.

Thursday evening’s performance took place at the CNN news network’s studios in Atlanta, Georgia, and it marked the first time since October 2020 that the two candidates met on the debate stage.

Biden had spent the week leading up to the debate at Camp David in Maryland, a presidential retreat where aides helped him prepare with mock set-ups. Trump, meanwhile, largely continued his schedule of rallies.

But from the moment Biden stepped on stage, the Democratic president seemed to wobble, muttering as he approached the podium.

Still, as he faced the first question of the night, Biden came out swinging, seeking to dent Trump’s popularity by attacking the Republican’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic

“We had an economy that was in free fall,” Biden told the room, which was empty except for two CNN moderators, Dana Bash and Jake Tapper. “By the time he left, things were in chaos. Things were in chaos. So we put things back together.”

He also mocked Trump’s resistance to COVID-19 safeguards, saying his philosophy echoed the misinformation circulating online about cures: “Just inject a little bleach into your arm, and you’ll be alright.”
But when Trump was given a chance to respond, his opening remarks reflected a certain hyperbole the Republican candidate has become known for.

“We had the greatest economy in the history of our country. We have never done so well. Everybody was amazed by it. Other countries were copying us,” Trump said in his opening remarks, quipping later: “Everything was rocking good.”