US election: Trump, Biden face off in first debate

US election: Trump, Biden face off in first debate
US election. This combo image shows President Biden (left) and Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump (right). / APJohn Carlo Thadeus C. Montecillo

US PRESIDENT Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump traded barbs and a variety of false and misleading information as they faced off in their first debate of the 2024 election.

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

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 plentiful falsehoods.

Trump falsely represented the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol as a relatively small number of people who were ushered in by police and misstated the strength of the economy during his administration.

Biden, who tends to lean more on exaggerations and embellishments rather than outright lies, misrepresented the cost of insulin and overstated what Trump said about using disinfectants to address COVID.

The Biden campaign is insisting that the president “started slow but finished strong” as it tries to claim victory in the debate.

In a memo, Biden advisers argued that the Trump’s performance reminded independent voters “why they dislike him,” while suggesting that Biden improved as the night wore on.

Vice President Kamala Harris made similar suggestions in TV appearances after the debate.

Biden’s voice was particularly raspy in the debate’s early going, and he repeatedly cleared his throat throughout the night. But the president was also hard to understand in his closing statement, undermining suggestions that he made much improvement.

Trump’s supporters, by contrast, were giddy, arguing that Biden looked befuddled and confused and that their candidate was the clear winner.

Former Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is weighing in on Biden’s debate performance, repeating her campaign trail line that the Democratic president won’t ultimately be his party’s 2024 nominee.

Trump’s final competitor in the Republican primary, who dropped out in March, said on X after the debate, “Mark my words....Biden will not be the Democrat nominee.”

Haley repeatedly said during her own presidential campaign that Biden would not end up representing his party in this year’s election, making critiques of the president’s age and her perceptions of his stumbles in office. / AP

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