Key Takeaways from the Biden Trump Debate: Who Came Out Ahead?

Key Takeaways from the Biden Trump Debate: Who Came Out Ahead?

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump faced off in a highly anticipated debate on Thursday night, marking the first time a sitting president and a former president have ever debated. The event, moderated by Jake Tapper and Dana Bash on CNN, covered a wide range of topics including abortion, immigration, foreign policy, and inflation. The debate was not just a clash of policies but also a personal showdown, with both candidates taking jabs at each other’s vulnerabilities and past actions.

Biden, who is 81 years old, appeared hoarse and struggled to articulate his points clearly. His performance raised concerns about his age and ability to effectively communicate his policies. At one point, after Biden trailed off while defending his record on border security, Trump quipped, “I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence. I don’t think he knows what he said, either.” This moment highlighted Biden’s difficulty in maintaining vocal clarity and coherence throughout the debate.

Trump, on the other hand, repeated his frequent claims of election fraud, stating he would accept the results of the 2024 election only if it’s “fair and legal.” He also took the opportunity to attack Biden on various fronts, including his son Hunter Biden’s recent conviction and Biden’s alleged involvement with a porn star. “I didn’t have sex with a porn star,” Trump asserted, countering Biden’s accusations.

The debate took a bitter turn when Biden highlighted Trump’s criminal convictions, to which Trump responded by bringing up Hunter Biden. The exchange became even more personal when Biden accused Trump of having sex with Stormy Daniels while his wife was pregnant. These personal attacks underscored the deep animosity between the two candidates.

Biden’s primary objective was to alleviate voters’ concerns about his age and turn the election into a referendum on Trump. However, he failed to do so convincingly. His hoarse voice and frequent stumbles made it difficult for him to effectively counter Trump’s attacks or present a clear vision for his second term. Biden’s performance is likely to lead to more discussions within the Democratic Party about whether nominating him for a second term was the right decision.

Trump, who often attacks Biden on his age, was relatively restrained during the debate. He refrained from mocking Biden’s difficulties, a stark contrast to his behavior in the 2020 debates. This change in tone seemed to be a strategic move to avoid the negative fallout from his previous debate performances, where he was criticized for constantly interrupting and shouting over Biden and the moderators.

Despite Biden’s physical shortcomings, it was not clear what objectives he hoped to achieve during the debate. Unlike their first meetings four years ago, where Biden scrutinized Trump’s record and offered a hopeful vision for the country, his message on Thursday was muddled. He was on the defensive most of the night, which is expected for an incumbent, but his explanations for his record were often too detailed and hard to follow.

Biden’s attacks on Trump were also uneven. He struggled to fact-check Trump on his lies, even those that have been repeated for years. On the critical issue of abortion, Biden floundered. His responses were bogged down in statistics and lacked clarity, making it difficult for viewers to grasp his stance. For instance, he mentioned, “We have 1,000 trillionaires in America, billionaires in America, and what’s happening, they’re in a situation where they in fact, pay 8.2% in taxes. If they just paid 24% or 25% – either one of those numbers when they raise $500 million, billion dollars, I should say, in a 10-year period. We’d be able to wipe out his debt.” Such convoluted statements did little to strengthen his position.

Biden’s aides had reportedly prepared him intensively for the debate, but his performance did not quell concerns about his capacity to continue fighting. His offensive strategy relied heavily on one-liners aimed at Trump, such as “Every single thing he’s said is a lie. Every single one,” and “I’ve never heard so much malarky in my life.” While these lines were intended to be impactful, they did not significantly alter the course of the debate.

When the topic shifted to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, Biden directly accused Trump of encouraging the rioters. Trump, however, avoided addressing the incident and instead focused on his administration’s achievements, such as energy independence and low taxes. This stark difference in responses highlighted the contrasting approaches of the two candidates.

Abortion, a critical issue for many voters, should have been a strong point for Biden. However, he struggled to articulate his party’s stance and appeared confused at times. This gave Trump an opening to discuss crimes committed by migrants, diverting the conversation away from abortion.

On foreign policy, particularly the war in Gaza, Trump criticized Biden for allegedly restraining the Israeli government. He claimed that Hamas’ attack on Israel would not have happened if he were in office. Biden, in response, emphasized America’s close alliance with Israel and the support the US has provided. However, neither candidate offered clear solutions for the ongoing conflict.

The immigration section of the debate was memorable for Biden’s stumble, but Trump also failed to provide direct answers about his proposed immigration crackdown. Instead, he attacked Biden for the crime rates associated with undocumented immigrants, to which Biden responded, “Every single thing he said was a lie.”

In summary, the debate highlighted the stark differences between Biden and Trump, both in terms of policy and personal conduct. Biden’s performance raised questions about his ability to effectively communicate and lead, while Trump’s restrained approach was a departure from his previous debate tactics. As the election approaches, both candidates will need to refine their strategies to win over voters.

Source: CNN

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