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First Presidential Debate: Trump Scores Over Biden in Heated Exchange

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The first 2024 presidential debate between President Joe Biden and his Republican rival, Donald Trump, saw a heated exchange on several key issues. After-debate polls indicate Trump as the winner of the debate. Here’s why experts think that Trump trumped over Biden.

For 90 minutes on Thursday night, CNN hosted the first presidential debate between former Republican President Donald Trump, 78, and Democratic President Joe Biden, 81. The debate featured sharp exchanges on inflation, immigration, abortion rights, and foreign policy. In the televised debate, the candidates aimed to persuade voters ahead of the upcoming election on November 5.

Polls and Public Opinion

A CNN poll aired immediately after the debate showed a decisive tilt in favor of Trump, with 67% of viewers believing he won the debate, compared to 33% who thought Biden performed better. This was a significant shift from the final 2020 presidential debate, where 53% of viewers felt Biden won, compared to 39% who favored Trump. Many viewers expressed concerns over Biden’s coherence and ability to lead the country effectively.

Key Points from the Debate

The debate enforced strict speaking limits, prohibited notes, and took place without an audience to ensure no reactions. Despite these constraints, the candidates sparred vigorously on key topics:

  • Inflation: Trump criticized Biden’s handling of the economy, blaming him for rising inflation and high living costs. Biden defended his administration’s economic policies, citing job creation and recovery efforts.
  • Immigration: The debate saw fierce exchanges on immigration policies, with Trump advocating for stricter border controls while Biden emphasized a more humane approach to immigration reform.
  • Abortion Rights: Trump reiterated his pro-life stance, while Biden supported women’s right to choose, emphasizing the importance of protecting reproductive rights.
  • Foreign Policy: Both candidates clashed over foreign policy, with Trump criticizing Biden’s handling of international relations and military engagements. Biden, on the other hand, highlighted his efforts to rebuild alliances and promote global stability.

Media and Expert Reactions

The New York Times declared Trump the winner, with columnist Josh Barro stating, “Joe Biden failed at his key task: showing voters he’s still cut out for the presidency. In the first 20 minutes, he was especially disastrous: mumbling, at times incoherent, and seeming really, really old. Trump seemed more normal than usual — enough for a clear win.”

Michelle Goldberg, a columnist and contributor for The New York Times, commented, “Trump, God help us. He spouted a fire hose of preposterous lies, but Biden was too incoherent to capitalize on any of it. Biden looked ancient and sounded lost. There will now be a new chorus of cries for him to drop out, and I’ll be joining it.”

On X (formerly Twitter), observers noted Trump’s strong performance and thorough answers, contrasting with Biden’s perceived confusion during the debate. Alyssa Farah Griffin, a CNN political commentator, wrote, “CNN Flash poll: 57% of viewers of tonight’s debate have NO confidence in Biden’s ability to lead the country. Stunning number from voters who witnessed his performance with their own eyes.”

Former CNN commentator Chris Cillizza added, “Look. This debate was a total and complete disaster for Biden. He looked old. His answers trailed off repeatedly. He was hard to understand. He would stop mid-sentence and move on to something else. I NEVER thought he would be this bad. Stunning. Truly.”

Biden Camp’s Defense

Biden’s team countered claims that he lost the debate, with Vice President Kamala Harris telling CNN, “It was a slow start but a strong finish,” reported Fox News. First Lady Jill Biden praised the president on stage after the debate, saying, “Joe, you did such a good job! You answered every question and knew all the facts.”

Several Democratic Party leaders, however, expressed deep concern over Biden’s performance in the debate. Jay Surdukowski, an attorney and Democratic activist from New Hampshire, told Politico, “Biden is toast – calling it now.”


Though this is the first of the presidential debates and Biden has chances of springing back, the results for now stand at Trump: 1 and Biden: 0. As the election season progresses, the upcoming debates will be crucial in shaping voter opinions and determining the ultimate victor in November.

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