LP_468x60
ontario news watch
on-the-record-468x60-white
and-another-thing-468x60
United States

Trump and Biden mix it up over policy and each other in a debate that turns deeply personal

PHOENIX (AP) — They passed on a handshake at the start, and from there President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump went right to mixing it up on policy — and each other — in their first 2024 presidential debate on Thursday night.

Personal animosity between the two men was palpable as they argued, sometimes in deeply personal terms, over abortion, the economy, age, the criminal convictions of Trump and Biden’s son Hunter, and even their mettle on the golf course.

Biden arrived with a raspy voice and spoke softly, the result, his campaign said, of a cold. Biden sometimes mumbled, got tongue-tied or lost his train of thought, a performance unlikely to calm anxiety among Democrats and many Americans about the 81-year-old president.

The 78-year-old Trump, as he often does, spoke with force but with plenty of falsehoods.

Some key moments from their 90-minute debate.

Debate gets personal

Trump and Biden went after each other throughout the debate.

Trump twice cited Hunter Biden, who was convicted this month on three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018 while he allegedly was addicted to drugs. Trump, who last month became the first former president to be convicted of felony crimes, labeled the president’s son a “convicted felon.”

Biden referenced Trump’s own criminal convictions, saying he had had “sex with a porn star” while his wife was pregnant, which Trump denied. Biden also said Trump had been found civilly liable for “molesting a woman in public.”

Biden was referring to actor Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had sex with Trump in 2006, a claim that precipitated a $130,000 hush money payment weeks before the 2016 election, and to writer E. Jean Carroll, who says Trump sexually abused her in a New York department store.

Biden’s claim that Melania Trump was pregnant during Trump’s alleged affair with Daniels was wrong. Barron Trump was born in March 2006. Daniels said she had sex with Trump in July 2006.

“You have the morals of an alley cat,” Biden charged.

The oldest presumptive nominees in history say they’re still sharp

More than 80 minutes into the debate, Biden, 81, and Trump, 78, were asked about their age and ability to serve well into their 80s.

Biden spotlighted a litany of policy achievements and said Trump is “three years younger and a lot less competent.” Biden also used the answer to slap at Trump for bad-mouthing the United States.

“The idea that we are some kind of failing country? I’ve never heard a president talk like that before,” Biden said.

In his retort, Trump said he was in as good a shape as he was 25 years ago and perhaps “even a little bit lighter.” He said he’s “aced” cognitive tests.

Though the men are not far apart in age, more voters worry that Biden is too old.

About 6 in 10 U.S. adults say they are “very concerned” that Biden is too old to be president, according to Gallup data collected in June. Only 18% had the same level of concern about Trump.

Biden mumbles and stumbles

With a hoarse voice, Biden was difficult to hear and understand from his first remarks, and his verbal miscues continued throughout.

Biden lost his train of thought while trying to make a point about tax rates and the number of billionaires in America. He trailed off and looked down before mumbling about COVID-19 and saying something to the effect that “we finally beat Medicare.”

When he tried to come back to finish his point, moderator Jake Tapper cut him off because his time was up.

Trump quickly interjected: “He’s right he did beat Medicare. He beat it to death.”

During a response to a question about abortion, Biden mentioned, seemingly out of nowhere, a young woman who was recently murdered by an immigrant — an apparent reference to a 12-year-old Houston girl who was strangled to death, allegedly by two Venezuelan men who entered the country illegally. The connection to abortion was unclear.

He also stumbled while delivering his prepared closing statement.

Trump pushes Jan. 6 falsehoods, minimizes conduct of those convicted of rioting

Trump lied about his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol, and tried to deflect by pivoting to other issues.

Pressed on his role, he said he encouraged people to act “peacefully and patriotically,” then changed the subject to launch an attack on former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

He said Biden ought to “be ashamed” for the way the Jan. 6 defendants have been handled.

Trump, who has floated the idea of pardons for the rioters, suggested his supporters who stormed the Capitol were actually peaceful and are now being politically persecuted.

In fact, the rioters engaged in hand-to-hand combat with police and used makeshift weapons to attack officers. More than 1,400 people have been charged with federal offenses stemming from the riot, and more than 1,000 of them have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial.

“The only person who’s on this stage that’s a convicted felon is the man I’m looking at right now” Biden said of his rival.

Trump equivocates on accepting election results

Trump was asked three times, but he never directly affirmed that he would accept the election results, no matter who wins.

Several times Trump noted that he would accept the results “if it’s a fair and legal and good election” but he would not give a yes or no answer.

Biden was not buying it, saying, “I doubt whether you’ll accept it; you’re such a whiner.”

Trump did denounce political violence as “totally unacceptable” — even as he minimized the conduct of those who rioted at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Candidates tangle over who’s extreme on abortion

Biden blamed Trump for eroding abortion rights after the Republican’s three nominees to the Supreme Court voted to reverse Roe v. Wade, which had recognized a nationwide constitutional right to abortion. The reversal has energized many voters who support abortion rights and it helped power Democratic victories in the 2022 midterms and special elections.

“It’s been a terrible thing what you’ve done,” Biden said, turning to his rival. He pledged to restore the law under Roe if given a second term but didn’t say how he’d accomplish that. He said the idea of turning abortion laws back to states “is like saying we’re going to turn civil rights back to the states.”

Trump said his presidency returned the issue of abortion to the people through state laws. He said he supports abortion ban exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother, and he repeated his false claim that Biden supports abortion up to and after birth.

“We think the Democrats are the radicals, not the Republicans,” Trump said.

Not even golf was off the table

Between debating the nation’s biggest problems, Biden and Trump also argued about their golf game.

Trump bragged about winning two golf tournaments recently, “and not even senior, two regular club championships.” He said the feat requires a golfer to be “quite smart” and able to hit the ball a long way.

Biden said he’d happily take on Trump in a driving contest, bragging he got his handicap “down to a six” when he was vice president.

“I’m happy to play golf with you if you carry your own bag,” Biden said to Trump. “Think you can do it?”

Jonathan J. Cooper, The Associated Press