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Donald Trump and Joe Biden have faced off at one of the earliest presidential debates in modern US history.

The two wannabe presidents clashed at the debate hosted in Atlanta, Georgia – a key battleground state which Biden won by less than 13,000 votes back in 2020.

This is the second round of debates between Trump and Biden, as they both competed to become president in 2020, a battle Biden ultimately won.

But the consensus seems to be that Trump won this clash, with Democrats concerned that the president stumbled, drew blanks, and didn’t take opportunities to challenge Trump’s record.

 

Vice President Kamala Harris defended Biden, telling CNN it ‘was a slow start, but there was a strong finish’. 

The two candidates strode on stage on Thursday evening and walked directly to their lecterns, avoiding a handshake.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden at the first presidential debate
At one point Trump mocked Biden for ‘not knowing what he’s saying’ (Picture: CNN)

Trump repeatedly attacked Biden on the economy and his foreign policy record, while Biden slammed Trump for ‘having sex with a porn star’ and his recent criminal conviction.

The attacks turned personal several times, with both men trading personal insults and at one point slamming each other’s golfing skills.

Biden’s raspy voice, which his team says is because he was ill, was repeatedly questioned by analysts who think his chances of retaining the presidency are slipping.

At one point he seemed to lose his train of thought and go blank, leading to Trump mocking him to his face for ‘not knowing what he’s saying’.

Aiming to avoid a repeat of their chaotic 2020 meetings, Mr Biden insisted – and Mr 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 first question saw Biden pressed to defend rising inflation since he took office, which he pinned on the situation he inherited from Trump amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the economy as the first issue of the debate, Biden detailed what he described as an American economy ‘in freefall’, while Trump bragged about the state of the economy while he was in office, as well as his handling of the pandemic.

Biden blamed Trump during the debate for the deluge of state abortion restrictions since the fall of Roe v Wade.

The former president repeated his catch-all states-rights response when abortion rights came up, touting that he returned the abortion question to individual states.

Trump said on the debate stage that he believes in abortion ban exceptions ‘for rape, incest and the life of the mother’.

Asked about the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021, Mr Trump quickly pivoted to immigration and taxes.

Pressed on his role, he said he encouraged people to act ‘peacefully and patriotically’, then attacked former House speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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

Almost 45 minutes into the debate, Biden finally referenced Trump’s recent felony conviction in New York.

During the discussion about the insurrection, Biden said: ‘The only person on this stage that’s a convicted felon is the man I’m looking at right now.’

Trump sought to pivot from his own legal troubles by referring to Mr Biden’s son, Hunter, as a ‘convicted felon’.

He was referencing the younger Biden’s felony conviction this month on three firearms charges.

Trump also repeated long-running claims related to the Bidens and Ukraine, a frequent attack point for Republicans, while Biden brought up allegations that Trump had sex with porn actress Stormy Daniels. Trump denies this.

The next presidential TV debate will be held on September 10, two months before the US heads to the polls on November 5. Metro

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