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Presidential debate: 4 takeaways from the first presidential debate...

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Published Time: 28.06.2024 - 07:04:23 Modified Time: 28.06.2024 - 07:04:23

And that’s why so many Democrats are ringing the fire alarms after the first general-election presidential debate of 2024. The Biden campaign said the president had a cold to explain why he sounded so hoarse and weak. But Biden’s stumbles right from the beginning played into his biggest vulnerability — his age and whether the 81-year-old is up to the challenge of handling four more years in office. Presidential debate, debate, CNN, presidential debate time, Joe Biden, presidential debates 2024, Biden, Donald Trump, Trump, trump biden debate, what time is the presidential debate, cnn debate, who won the debate, What time is the debate, when is the presidential debate, how long is the debate, biden trump debate, biden age, trump debate, CNN presidential debate, biden debate, how to watch the debate tonight, debate results, who won the presidential debate, where to watch debate, The debate, what time does the debate start, what time is debate, what time is the presidential debate tonight, debate fact check, trump and biden debate, abc news, Trump vs Biden, how to watch debate, trump vs biden debate, presidental debate, who won debate, biden vs trump debate, 2024 Presidential Debate, what time is presidential debate, who won the debate tonight, debate start time, debate highlights, trump biden, biden vs trump, time of debate, 2024 debate, presidential debate 2024, president debate, trump biden debate time, debate analysis, when does the debate start


If some who listened to the radio in 1960 thought Richard Nixon won the presidential debate with John F. Kennedy, then maybe reading the transcript of Thursday night’s match-up would think President Biden won.

But elections aren’t won in transcripts. The reality is, fairly or not, debates are often optics — how the candidates present themselves, defend their records and parry attacks.

And that’s why so many Democrats are ringing the fire alarms after the first general-election presidential debate of 2024. The Biden campaign said the president had a cold to explain why he sounded so hoarse and weak. But Biden’s stumbles right from the beginning played into his biggest vulnerability — his age and whether the 81-year-old is up to the challenge of handling four more years in office.

There were issues for Trump, too, as he continued to spread falsehoods and bathe in the kinds of conspiratorial grievances that have turned off many voters.

Not much has changed the dynamics of this race; will anything that happened Thursday night make a difference either?

Here are four takeaways from the first Biden-Trump debate of this campaign:

Neither candidate is the official nominee yet. The national political conventions haven’t happened — but it’s next to impossible that Democrats would replace Biden.

Still, given he delivered the kind of performance Democrats feared, party leaders, strategists and many voters, frankly, had to be wondering during this debate what it would be like if any of a handful of other Democrats were standing on that stage.

Biden got a bit stronger as the debate went on, especially on foreign policy. He had some one-liners, like calling Trump a “whiner” when Trump wouldn’t definitively say that he would accept the results of the 2024 election. But Biden often wasn’t able to show vigor or consistently convey what he wanted to say. He simply couldn’t deliver the kinds of happy-warrior blows with that toothy smile audiences have seen from Biden in years past.

“Sometimes the spin don’t spin,” one Democratic strategist texted midway through the debate when asked for reaction.

An important rule of thumb for candidates — and moderators — in debates is to be conscious of how things look, of how you look, of what are seeing at home. And what saw — and this was predictable — was a split screen.

Biden wasn’t able to use that to his advantage at all, even as Trump doled out falsehood after falsehood. Instead, he looked genuinely shocked and confused, which is never a good look.

Trump and his base might not care Saturday Night Live, but Biden’s base does. And this week’s cold open won’t be pretty.

The muting of the candidates was likely intended to make the debate calmer and not allow Trump to run roughshod over the moderators or his opponent. But it had the effect of making Trump seem more sedate than usual.

Trump employed rounds of verbal jujitsu, in which he threw back his own vulnerabilities and directed them toward Biden. He was even able at one point, during a strange exchange golf handicaps, to say, “Let’s not act like children.”

The moderation, or lack thereof, also allowed Trump to spread falsehoods and hyperbole without being interrupted or corrected. CNN indicated before the debate that the moderators were not going to play a strong role in fact checking the candidates, and they lived up to that.

They left it to the candidates, essentially, and with Biden unable to deliver in real time and the moderators declining to, the audience was left with a salad bowl full of rotten eggs and moldy lettuce that passed for facts.

Despite Biden’s struggles, which will understandably get the headlines, Trump had some difficult moments, too, especially in the second half of the debate.

In addition to spreading myriad falsehoods, he did little to credibly defend his conduct on and before the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol; he used the kind of hyperbolic and vituperative language that has long turned off swing voters; and showed why many are concerned some of his positions on the issues, especially on abortion and how the U.S. should be represented on the world stage.

NEWS