Biden and Trump face off at CNN presidential debate


President Biden aimed to ignite renewed enthusiasm for his re-election campaign by agreeing to debate two months before his formal nomination. However, his hesitant and uncoordinated performance on Thursday night sparked widespread concern among Democrats and reignited debates about whether he should be the nominee at all. Over the 90-minute debate, an increasingly hoarse Mr. Biden struggled to articulate his points and effectively counter a sharp, though misleading, former President Donald J. Trump, casting doubt on Biden's ability to lead a dynamic and competitive campaign just four months before the election. Instead of quelling worries about his age, Biden, at 81, made it the focal point of the evening.

Democrats who have long defended the president against skeptics—some within his own administration—were exchanging frantic phone calls and text messages only moments into the debate, as it became evident that Mr. Biden was not performing at his best. Many took to social media in shock, while others privately deliberated the implications for their party and whether there was still time to push for a younger candidate.

“Biden is about to face a crescendo of calls to step aside,” said a seasoned Democratic strategist who had publicly supported Biden. “Joe had a deep well of affection among Democrats. It has run dry.” The strategist added, “Parties exist to win. The man on the stage with Trump cannot win. The fear of Trump stifled criticism of Biden. Now that same fear is going to fuel calls for him to step down.”

Biden’s decision to accept a general election debate earlier than any in presidential history was intended to frame the election as a stark choice between him and a felon who attempted to overturn an election and could potentially dismantle American democracy. Instead, Biden left the CNN studio in Atlanta facing a referendum on his own performance and capabilities, repercussions of which will likely persist for days, if not longer.

Trump, 78, glided through the debate with little difficulty, spouting numerous falsehoods largely unchallenged. He appeared self-assured and avoided the overly aggressive demeanor that hurt him in his first debate with Biden in 2020, seemingly content to let his opponent falter.

“Guys, the Dems should nominate someone else — before it’s too late,” wrote Andrew Yang, who competed against Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2020, on social media, adding the hashtag #swapJoeout. Van Jones, a former aide to President Barack Obama and a prominent liberal commentator, suggested a renewed discussion of Biden’s candidacy. “There’s a lot of people who are going to want to see him consider taking a different course now,” Jones said on CNN following the debate.

Online reactions mirrored these sentiments within the first 30 minutes of the debate. “Sorry, I’m voting for President Biden but this is a disaster so far,” tweeted Mike Murphy, an anti-Trump Republican. He speculated that if the situation continued, Democratic panic would be monumental. Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former Trump aide who has since disavowed him, remarked, “It’s worse than I believe most people imagined.”

Biden’s advisers have dismissed any notion of him bowing out, considering such talk as unfounded anxiety, even as he lags behind Trump in key battleground states crucial for victory this fall. Biden’s allies have repeatedly countered the polls and highlighted that previous predictions of Democratic losses have proven exaggerated.

No sitting president has ever withdrawn from a race this late in the campaign cycle, and there is no clear plan for what would happen if he did. On Thursday night, Democrats contemplated scenarios where influential figures like Senator Chuck Schumer, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Representative James E. Clyburn might need to intervene with Biden, although there was no sign any of them were ready to do so. Others feared it was too late and doubted that Biden would heed advice from anyone other than possibly his wife, Jill Biden, who has been a strong advocate for his re-election. Biden’s team concluded the night knowing that their immediate challenge would be to quell such speculation and rally support around their embattled leader.  
 Democratic U.S. President
 Joe Biden and his Republican rival Donald Trump took the stage on Thursday night for a debate that offered voters a rare side-by-side look at the two oldest candidates ever to seek the U.S. presidency.

Here are some of the major takeaways:


The leading question going into the debate was how the two men, both of whom have faced questions about their fitness for the job, would handle themselves on stage.
The early going favored Trump, 78, who appeared forceful and energetic when compared to the 81-year-old Biden, who spoke in a hoarse, halting voice and coughed regularly.
The White House said during the debate that the president was suffering from a cold.
Biden began to find his footing later in the debate as he attacked Trump's character. "The idea that I would apologize to you?" Biden asked at one point, incredulous after Trump accused him of mistreating veterans.
"You're the sucker. You're the loser," Biden told Trump.
Each suggested the other was a criminal.
"The only person on this stage who is a convicted felon is the man I'm looking at right now," Biden said and then accused Trump of having sex with porn star Stormy Daniels.
The bad blood between the two men was on display from the start when they eschewed the traditional handshake. Biden frequently referred to Trump as "this guy" and chuckled at some of his opponent's more hyperbolic statements.


Both candidates blamed the other for the number one issue on voters' minds: inflation.
Biden accused Trump of leaving him a "terrible" economy in response to the moderators' first question about rising prices paid by consumers.
Trump replied that Biden's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was a "disaster" and said inflation was "absolutely killing us."
He blamed the pandemic for wrecking the economy and his shot at re-election. "Everything was rocking good," he said.
Voters, right now, seem to be agreeing more with Trump than Biden, with polls showing they favor Trump's handling of the economy.
Biden's challenge on Thursday was to make clear to viewers that his administration is the one that dug the country out of the pandemic-induced hole.
"There was no inflation when I became president," Biden said. "You know why? The economy was flat on its back."


Biden seemed to lose his train of thought while responding to a question about the national debt.
His voice trailing off several times, Biden first referred to "billionaires" as "trillionaires" before correcting himself.
Then, while arguing that the wealthy should pay more tax, he seemed unable to complete his sentence, pausing for an extended awkward moment, before ending his thought in a way that sounded nonsensical.
Tax reform would create money to help "strengthen our healthcare system, making sure that we're able to make every single solitary person eligible for what I was able to do with the, with the COVID, excuse me, with dealing with everything we had to do with," Biden said before pausing.
"We finally beat Medicare," Biden said, likely referring to COVID-19.
Trump pounced.
"He's right. He did beat Medicare. He beat it to death."


CNN served up exactly the topics the candidates wanted to discuss.
In the weeks before the debate, the candidates and their campaigns openly signaled what they wanted to talk about: for Biden, it was abortion rights, the state of democracy, and the economy. Trump wanted to talk about immigration, public safety, and inflation. In each case, the candidates’ aides thought it would allow them to tee up winning talking points.
They got their wish: CNN’s moderators, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash opened the debate by asking about the economy, before turning to abortion and immigration, then hitting foreign policy and the attacks on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The economy is the number one concern for voters, and registered U.S. voters favor Trump on the issue, 43% to 37%, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling this month. The Republican has a more significant edge - 44% to 31% - on immigration. Americans favor Biden 36% to 27% on healthcare.
Whether the debate changes those numbers remains to be seen.
U.S. President Joe Biden's supporters had hoped Thursday night's debate would erase worries that the 81-year-old was too old to serve another term, but his hoarse voice and at times tentative performance against Republican rival Donald Trump did the opposite.
Biden and Trump, 78, both have faced concerns about their age and fitness in the run-up to the Nov. 5 election, but they have weighed more heavily on Biden.
On Thursday, with his voice hoarse from a cold, Biden hurried through some of his talking points on the debate stage, stumbled over some answers, and trailed off during others.
About halfway through the debate, a Democratic strategist who worked on Biden’s 2020 campaign called it a "disaster."
Trump unleashed a barrage of criticisms including well-worn falsehoods like migrants carrying out a crime wave and that Democrats support infanticide. Early in the debate, Biden paused as he was making a point about Medicare and tax reform and seemed to lose his train of thought.
Tax reform would create money to help "strengthen our healthcare system, making sure that we're able to make every single solitary person eligible for what I was able to do with the, with the COVID, excuse me, with dealing with everything we had to do with," Biden said, pausing. "We finally beat Medicare."
Trump jabbed Biden for being incoherent, saying at one point: "I really don't know what he said at the end of that sentence. I don't think he knows what he said."
"Biden's not talking in a measured way, and looks like he's searching for words," said Ray La Raja, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Ahead of the debate, Biden confined himself to nearly a week of "debate camp" with top advisers at the Camp David presidential retreat in the mountains of western Maryland, an indication of how important his campaign considered Thursday night. It didn't reflect on his performance, critics said.
"Trump is Trump, every word out of his mouth is bullshit. But Biden sounds old. And lost. And that’s going to matter more than anything. So far, this is an absolute nightmare for Biden," Joe Walsh, a former 2020 Republican presidential candidate who has been critical of Trump, said on X.

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.

There’s no comparing the volume of false and misleading claims Trump has deployed throughout his campaigns and presidency with Biden, who tends to lean more on exaggerations and embellishments rather than outright lies. Here’s a look at the false and misleading claims by the two candidates.



TRUMP: We had the greatest economy in history.”

THE FACTS: That’s not accurate. First of all, the pandemic triggered a massive recession during his presidency. The government borrowed $3.1 trillion in 2020 to stabilize the economy. Trump had the ignominy of leaving the White House with fewer jobs than when he entered.

But even if you take out issues caused by the pandemic, economic growth averaged 2.67% during Trump’s first three years. That’s pretty solid. But it’s nowhere near the 4% averaged during Bill Clinton’s two terms from 1993 to 2001, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In fact, growth has been stronger so far under Biden than under Trump.

Trump did have the unemployment rate get as low as 3.5% before the pandemic. But again, the labor force participation rate for people 25 to 54 — the core of the U.S. working population — was higher under Clinton. The participation rate has also been higher under Biden than Trump.

Trump also likes to talk about how low inflation was under him. Gasoline fell as low as $1.77 a gallon. But, of course, that price dip happened during pandemic lockdowns when few people were driving. The low prices were due to a global health crisis, not Trump’s policies.

Similarly, average 30-year mortgage rates dipped to 2.65% during the pandemic. Those low rates were a byproduct of Federal Reserve efforts to prop up a weak economy, rather than the sign of strength that Trump now suggests it was.



TRUMP: “The problem they have is they’re radical because they will take the life of a child in the eighth month, the ninth month, and even after birth, after birth.”

THE FACTS: Trump inaccurately referred to abortions after birth. Infanticide is criminalized in every state, and no state has passed a law that allows killing a baby after birth.

Abortion rights advocates say terms like this and “late-term abortions” attempt to stigmatize abortions later in pregnancy. Abortions later in pregnancy are exceedingly rare. In 2020, less than 1% of abortions in the United States were performed at or after 21 weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Abortions later in pregnancy also are usually the result of serious complications, such as fetal anomalies, that put the life of the woman or fetus at risk, medical experts say. In most cases, these are also wanted pregnancies, experts say.



BIDEN: Trump told Americans to “inject bleach” into their arms to treat COVID-19.

THE FACTS: That’s overstating it. Rather, Trump asked whether it would be possible to inject disinfectant into the lungs.

“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute,” he said at an April 2020 press conference. “And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that so that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we’ll see, but the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute. That’s pretty powerful.”



TRUMP, referring to Biden: “He’s the one that killed people with a bad border and flooding hundreds of thousands of people dying and also killing our citizens when they come in.”

THE FACTS: A mass influx of migrants coming into the U.S. illegally across the southern border has led to several false and misleading claims by Trump. For example, he regularly claims other countries are emptying their prisons and mental institutions to send to the U.S. There is no evidence to support that.

Trump has also argued the influx of immigrants is causing a crime surge in the U.S., although statistics actually show violent crime is on the way down.

There have been recent high-profile and heinous crimes allegedly committed by people in the country illegally. But FBI statistics do not separate out crimes by the immigration status of the assailant, nor is there any evidence of a spike in crime perpetrated by migrants, either along the U.S.-Mexico border or in cities seeing the greatest influx of migrants, like New York. Studies have found that people living in the country illegally are less likely than native-born Americans to have been arrested for violent, drug, and property crimes. For more than a century, critics of immigration have sought to link new arrivals to crime. In 1931, the Wickersham Commission did not find any evidence supporting a connection between immigration and increased crime, and many studies since then have reached similar conclusions.

Texas is the only state that tracks crimes by immigration status. A 2020 study published by the National Academy of Sciences found “considerably lower felony arrest rates” among people in the United States illegally than legal immigrants or native-born.

Some crime is expected given the large population of immigrants. There were an estimated 10.5 million people in the country illegally in 2021, according to the latest estimate by the Pew Research Center, a figure that has almost certainly risen with large influxes at the border. In 2022, the Census Bureau estimated the foreign-born population at 46.2 million, or nearly 14% of the total, with most states seeing double-digit percentage increases in the last dozen years.

 A raspy and sometimes halting President Joe Biden repeatedly sought to confront Donald Trump in their first debate ahead of the November election, as his Republican rival countered Biden’s criticism by leaning into falsehoods about the economy, illegal immigration, and his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.

Biden’s uneven performance crystallized the concerns of many Americans that, at age 81, he is too old to serve as president. It sparked a fresh round of calls for the Democrat to step aside.


President Joe Biden, right, and Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, left, during a presidential debate hosted by CNN, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. On the far right is CNN moderator Dana Bash. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Meanwhile, the 78-year-old Trump’s rhetoric offered Americans an unwelcome reminder of the bombast he launched daily during his tumultuous four years in office, as he struggled to win over skeptical voters. He declined to clearly state he would accept the results of the November election, four years after he promoted conspiracy theories about his loss that culminated in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Biden repeatedly tore into Trump in personal terms in an apparent effort to provoke him, bringing up everything from the former president’s recent felony conviction to his alleged insult of World War I veterans to his weight and golf game. But his halting delivery from the beginning of the debate drew the most attention immediately afterward. Trump’s allies immediately declared victory while prominent Democrats publicly questioned whether Biden could move forward.

“I think there was a sense of shock, actually, of how he came out at the beginning of this debate, how his voice sounded. He seemed a little disoriented. He did get stronger as the debate went on but by that time, I think the panic had set in,” David Axelrod, a longtime advisor to former President Barack Obama, said on CNN immediately after. “And I think you’re going to hear discussions that, I don’t know will lead to anything, but there are going to be discussions about whether he should continue.”

Said Van Jones, another Democratic strategist, on CNN: “He did not do well at all.”

David Plouffe, Obama’s former campaign manager, described the debate on MSNBC as a “DEFCON1” moment for Democrats.

Biden began the night with a raspy voice and a halting delivery as he tried to defend his economic record and criticize Trump. A person familiar with the matter said Biden was suffering from a cold during the debate, adding that he tested negative for COVID-19.

President Joe Biden gestures during a presidential debate with Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures during a presidential debate with President Joe Biden, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Biden appeared to lose his train of thought while giving one answer, drifting from an answer on tax policy to health policy, at one point using the word “COVID,” and then saying, “excuse me, with, dealing with,” and he trailed off again.

“Look, we finally beat Medicare,” Biden said, as his time ran out on his answer.

Biden began to give clearer answers as the debate progressed, still with a rasp, and attacked Trump’s record on issues like fighting climate change.


President Joe Biden, right, listens as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks during a presidential debate hosted by CNN, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

“The only existential threat to humanity is climate change, and he didn’t do a damn thing about it,” he said.

The current president and his predecessor hadn’t spoken since their last debate weeks before the 2020 presidential election. Trump skipped Biden’s inauguration after leading an unprecedented and unsuccessful effort to overturn his loss that culminated in the Capitol riot by his supporters.

Trump equivocated on whether he would accept the results of the November election, saying he would accept them if the vote was “fair” and “legal,” repeating his baseless claims of widespread fraud and misconduct in his 2020 loss to Biden that he still denies.

Pressed on his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, Trump was unapologetic.

“On Jan. 6, we were respected all over the world, we were respected. And then he comes in and we’re now laughed at,” Trump said.

After he was prompted by a moderator to answer whether he violated his oath of office that day by rallying his supporters seeking to block the certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory and not acting for hours to call them off as they raided the Capitol, Trump sought to blame then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Biden said Trump encouraged the supporters to go to the Capitol and sit in the White House without taking action as they fought with police officers.

“He didn’t do a damn thing and these people should be in jail,” Biden said. “They should be the ones that are being held accountable. And he wants to let them all out. And now he says that if he loses again, such a whiner that he is, that this could be a ‘bloodbath’?”

Trump then defended the people convicted and imprisoned for their role in the insurrection, saying to Biden, “What they’ve done to some people that are so innocent, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

The former president has allied himself with Jan. 6 rioters and sometimes opens his rallies by playing a rendition of the national anthem performed by people jailed on riot-related charges.

Trump and Biden entered the night facing stiff headwinds, including a public weary of the tumult of partisan politics and broadly dissatisfied with both, according to polling. But the debate was highlighting how they have sharply different visions on virtually every core issue — abortion, the economy, and foreign policy — and deep hostility toward each other.

Their personal animus quickly came to the surface. Biden got personal in evoking his son, Beau, who served in Iraq before dying of brain cancer. The president criticized Trump for reportedly calling Americans killed in battle “suckers and losers.” Biden told Trump, “My son was not a loser, was not a sucker. You’re the sucker. You’re the loser.”


Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks during a presidential debate hosted by CNN with President Joe Biden, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Trump said he never said that — a line attributed to Trump by his former chief of staff — and slammed Biden for the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, calling it “the most embarrassing day in the history of our country’s life.”

Trump himself agreed to the withdrawal with the Taliban a year before he left office.

Biden directly mentioned Trump’s conviction in the New York hush money trial, saying, “You have the morals of an alley cat,” and referencing the allegations in the case that Trump had sex with a porn actress.

“I did not have sex with a porn star,” replied Trump, who chose not to testify at his trial.

Trump retorted that Biden could face criminal charges “when he leaves office,” evoking his familiar threats of retribution. Though there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, Trump said, “Joe could be a convicted felon with all the things that he’s done.”

Pressed to defend rising inflation since he took office, Biden pinned it on the situation he inherited from Trump amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden said that when Trump left office, “things were in chaos.” Trump disagreed, declaring that during his term in the White House, “Everything was rocking good.”

By the time Trump left office, America was still grappling with the pandemic and during his final hours in office, the death toll eclipsed 400,000. The virus continued to ravage the country and the death toll hit 1 million over a year later.

Trump repeatedly insisted that the three conservative justices he appointed to the Supreme Court helped overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and returned the issue of abortion restrictions to individual states, which is what “everybody wanted.” Biden countered that abortion access was settled for 50 years and that Trump was making it harder for women in large swaths of the country to get access to basic health care.

President Joe Biden speaks during a presidential debate with Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks during a presidential debate with President Joe Biden, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

At one point, Trump defended his record on foreign policy and blamed Biden for the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, suggesting the conflicts broke out when the aggressors felt free to attack because they perceived Biden as weak.

“This place, the whole world, is blowing up under him,” Trump said.

“I never heard so much malarkey in my whole life,” Biden retorted.

Trump was asked what he would do to make childcare more affordable. He used his answer to instead boast about how many people he fired during his term, including former FBI Director James Comey, and criticized Biden for not firing people from his administration.

Trump has promised sweeping plans to remake the U.S. government if he returns to the White House and Biden argues that his opponent would pose an existential threat to the nation’s democracy.

Aiming to avoid a repeat of their chaotic 2020 matchups, Biden insisted — and Trump agreed — to hold the debate without an audience and to allow the network to mute the candidates’ microphones when it is not their turn to speak. The debate’s two commercial breaks offered another departure from modern practice, while the candidates have agreed not to consult staff or others while the cameras are off.

Both men abided by the rules and didn’t speak out of turn. Near the end, Biden also appeared to question Trump’s weight — leading Trump to respond while his mic was muted, making his answer partly inaudible — and the two squabbled about their golf handicaps.

“Let’s not act like children,” Trump replied.

Trump walked straight off the stage alone, after the debate. Biden was joined by his wife Jill, who watched from a green room. They hugged and kissed and she held his hand and seemed to assist him down the stairs as they approached Bash and Tapper to greet the moderators before leaving.

Heading out of the debate, both Biden and Trump will travel to states they hope to swing their way this fall. Trump is heading to Virginia, a one-time battleground that has shifted toward Democrats in recent years.

Biden is set to jet off to North Carolina, where he is expected to hold the largest yet rally of his campaign in a state Trump narrowly carried in 2020.

The debate got personal. Here’s what to know.

Former President Donald J. Trump repeatedly delivered aggressive, often misleading attacks against a shaky President Biden during a 90-minute debate Thursday night, offering millions of voters a stark contrast amid a high-stakes rematch in which Mr. Biden’s performance was repeatedly foggy and disjointed.

Mr. Trump, 78, made wild assertions and false statements, remaining unapologetic about his alternate-reality claims about the 2020 election, while avoiding a grievance-filled rant. Mr. Biden, 81, spoke rapidly and appeared to meander through his answers, fumbling at the end of sentences even as he accused Mr. Trump of being a liar and a threat to democracy.

Here’s what else to know:

  • Opening salvos: The debate started with a dramatic contrast between the two candidates. Mr. Trump responded to questions about taxes, inflation, and abortion with aggression and discipline, repeatedly criticizing Biden’s administration. Mr. Biden was halting and over-programmed, losing his train of thought on the subjects of Medicare and abortion. Mr. Biden spoke rapidly, sometimes appearing to mumble his words.

  • Trump pounces early: Mr. Trump seized on Mr. Biden’s shakiness and early stumbles to underscore Republican questions about the president’s mental capacity. When Mr. Biden trailed off during an answer on immigration, Mr. Trump quickly offered: “I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence. I don’t think he knows what he said, either.” After an answer by Mr. Biden on immigration, Mr. Trump claimed that the president had allowed terrorists and criminals to cross the border. “I call it Biden migrant crime,” Mr. Trump said.

  • Democrats worry about Biden’s performance: Within minutes of the debate’s start, Democrats began wringing their hands about Mr. Biden’s performance. On social media, in chats and in emails, the president’s supporters freaked out about the president’s trembling voice, his disjointed answers and his apparent confusion during some of his responses. Concerns about Mr. Biden’s age, which have been simmering for months, burst into public view before the debate was over.

  • Biden and Trump get personal: The president lashed out at his rival in ways that might have once been unheard-of on a presidential debate stage, noting that Mr. Trump was the “only person on this stage that is a convicted felon” and bringing up lawsuits accusing him of molesting a woman and having sex with a porn star “on the night while your wife was pregnant.” He said Mr. Trump had the “morals of an alley cat.” Mr. Trump responded by referring to the criminal conviction of Mr. Biden’s son Hunter, saying, “His son is a convicted felon at a very high level.”

  • Trump ignores moderators: Mr. Trump largely ignored questions from the moderators, using his time to boast about himself and attack Mr. Biden. The former president did not repeatedly interrupt his rival as he did at the first debate in 2020. But he spent his time repeatedly hammering Mr. Biden as “the worst president” in the history of the country. Several times, Mr. Trump finished his answers without taking his full time, prompting the moderators to repeat the original question.

  • Trump’s blizzard of lies: Mr. Trump reprised his habit of offering a flurry of false assertions, something that he honed during his first two campaigns and as president. Fact-checkers caught him being misleading on the damage to social security, the environment, the Jan. 6 riot, and the increased cost of food. He repeated his false claims that the Justice Department had been involved in the state cases against him.

  • Biden sharpens in defense of NATO: In one of Mr. Biden’s strongest moments, he forcefully accused Mr. Trump of being willing to abandon Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. “I’ve never heard so much foolishness,” the president said. “This, the guy who wants to get out of NATO. Are you going to stay in NATO?” The comment punctuated a fierce back-and-forth over the role of the United States in the world. Mr. Trump’s retort: “The only reason that he can play games with NATO is because I got them to put up hundreds of billions of dollars.”

  • Biden stumbles on abortion: Coming into the debate, abortion was supposed to be one of the strongest issues for Mr. Biden. But his answer to a question about the procedure prompted concern among his allies. He started by talking about Mr. Trump’s desire to let states decide whether abortion is legal. But he stumbled through a story about a young woman “who just was murdered” and referred to a funeral that Mr. Trump attended. The intent appeared to be to call into question the former president’s claims about illegal immigrants raping women, but Mr. Biden’s stumbles made it difficult to understand. “There’s a lot of young women to be raped by their, by their in-laws, by their spouses, brothers and sisters. It’s just ridiculous.”

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