Biden, Trump participate in first presidential debate - Catholic Courier
Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden participate in their first U.S. presidential campaign debate in Atlanta June 27, 2024. Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden participate in their first U.S. presidential campaign debate in Atlanta June 27, 2024. (OSV News photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Biden, Trump participate in first presidential debate

(OSV News) — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, participated in the first general election debate of the 2024 cycle on June 27, including on topics like abortion, immigration, foreign policy, and the economy.

Biden and Trump, the 46th and 45th presidents respectively, did not shake hands at the start of their first debate in their second election cycle as rivals.

Biden at times appeared pale, and his voice — which his camp said was due to a cold — came across as faint, and at times unsteady in his delivery. Trump gave a more robust performance but lacked a clear direction for many of his comments.

The debate moderators engaged in no real time fact-checking of the candidates. At one point, Trump accused Biden of calling Black Americans “superpredators” but that claim involved a 1996 speech by then-first lady Hilary Clinton, who was Trump’s 2016 general election rival. Biden claimed the Border Patrol union endorsed him but the union tweeted they “never have and never will.”

During presidential debate, the candidates addressed voters’ concerns about their ages

Both candidates also addressed voters’ concerns about their ages: Trump is 78 and Biden is 81.

Biden quipped that he was “the youngest person in politics” for much of his career.

“Just look at the record. Look what I’ve done,” he said.

Trump replied, “I took two cognitive tests. I took physical exams every year.”

“And you know, we’re knocking on wood wherever we may have wood, that I’m in very good health,” he said.

Presidential debate often turned personal

The debate became personal often — to the point that the candidates ended up failing to answer policy questions, such as addressing child care, and attacked each other over their golf game.

Biden referenced Trump’s recent conviction on all 34 felony counts by a Manhattan jury that he falsified business records in paying hush money to an adult film actress in the closing days of the 2016 campaign, and said Trump had the “morals of an alley cat.”

Trump noted Biden’s son is also a convicted felon and took shots at Biden’s debate performance. At one point Trump said of Biden, “I really didn’t know what he said at the end of that sentence. I don’t think he knows what he said either.”

The moderators, CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, often tried to redirect the candidates to their questions rather than remarks about each other.

Biden and Trump spar on abortion

In an exchange about abortion, Trump reiterated his position that abortion should be left to individual states to legislate.

Asked if he would restrict at the federal level mifepristone — the drug is used in combination with misoprostol both for early abortion and early miscarriage care — Trump replied that “the Supreme Court just approved the abortion pill and I agree with their decision … I will not block it.”

The Supreme Court June 13 unanimously dismissed a challenge to mifepristone, finding that the challengers lacked standing to bring the case. The ruling was procedural, not on the merits of the drug or the FDA’s regulations on the drug.

Biden and Trump sparred on abortion, with Biden arguing that the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision overturned by the Supreme Court in 2022 should be restored. Pressed by Bash on whether he supported any limits on abortion, Biden did not identify a specific gestational limit, arguing the decision should be left to a woman and her doctors. But he then added, “We are not for late-term abortion. Period.”

Candidates spar over immigration, Ukraine and Jan. 6, 2021

Trump reiterated his hardline stance on immigration, frequently pivoting back to the topic of migrants during other subjects, and arguing the nation was seeing its “worst border in history.”

Biden pushed back saying, “We find ourselves in a situation where when he was president, he was taking — separating — babies from their mothers, putting them in cages, making sure they’re — the families were separated. That’s not (the) right way to go.”

The pair also spared on Ukraine, with Biden arguing Trump would not stand firm against Russian President Vladimir Putin and uphold commitments to allies and NATO. Trump argued that Putin would not have invaded Ukraine had he been in office.

Asked about his actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, in which Trump’s supporters attempted to block certification of Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, Trump denied having a role. He instead sought to cast blame on others, including then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for the attack.

Due to a coin toss, Biden went before Trump as the pair delivered their closing statements.

Biden argued he turned around an economy Trump left damaged as he left office.

“We have made significant progress from the debacle that was left by President Trump in his last term,” Biden said.

Another debate scheduled for September

Trump hit Biden on issues including inflation, immigration, and foreign policy.

“We’re a failing nation, but it’s not going to be failing anymore,” he said. “We’re going to make it great again.”

The pair are scheduled to debate again Sept. 10.

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Kate Scanlon is a national reporter for OSV News covering Washington. Follow her on X (formerly known as Twitter) @kgscanlon.

Tags: Election News
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