What just happened? Breaking down the most viral moments from the Biden-Trump debate

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published Jun 28, 2024 at 02:19 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes


Welcome back to our weekly recap, where we bring you the latest highlights leading up to the pivotal 2024 US presidential election. If you’ve missed our previous updates, be sure to catch up to speed on all the crucial developments shaping the race. This week, we delve into the most anticipated event of the campaign season: the presidential debate (and the complete mess that it was, to be more specific).

Joe Biden and Donald Trump faced off in the very first debate of the 2024 presidential election campaign, marking a pivotal moment in the race. The debate format, designed to prevent a shouting match with muted microphones, inadvertently highlighted the stark contrast between the two candidates.

Trump, despite stretching the truth, with his egocentric and bombastic personality, appeared confident, assertive, and in command. Biden, on the other hand, seemed hesitant and stumbled over his words, even appearing to freeze less than ten minutes into the debate.


President #Biden and former President #Trump faced off in the first U.S. presidential #debate of 2024. Here’s a recap of the highlights and top moments from the night. Courtesy of CNN.

♬ original sound - staytunednbc

How Joe Biden fumbled the bag during the presidential debate

The debate was a pivotal moment for Biden’s campaign. Unfortunately, his appearance was alarming from the start. Biden seemed visibly confused, his mouth agape and eyes hooded, his voice weak and his thoughts wandering. This performance led many to question his fitness for another term.

As reported by Sky News, one Democratic politician told NBC News: “It’s time to talk about an open convention and a new Democratic nominee.” Others likened Biden’s performance to a past-his-prime boxer needing his corner to throw in the towel. David Axelrod, a senior aide to former President Barack Obama, remarked on CNN: “There is a sense of shock at how he came out at the beginning of this debate… He seemed a little disoriented.”

However, replacing a candidate at this stage is unprecedented and challenging. Unless Biden chooses to step aside, a revolt at the Democratic National Convention would be required—a difficult prospect given delegates were elected on their pledge to nominate him.

How Biden’s missteps led to anger

Throughout the debate, Biden struggled to articulate his points. A notable moment was his inexplicable shift from discussing abortion to illegal immigrant crime. As the debate progressed, Biden became visibly angry, attacking Trump personally. He accused Trump of owing “billions of dollars” in civil penalties for molesting a woman in public and claimed Trump had sex with a porn star while his wife was pregnant. While these points highlighted Trump’s notorious behaviour, Biden missed opportunities to deliver stronger blows, given the extensive list of Trump’s controversies and legal issues.

Biden and Trump clash on abortion and immigration

On the topic of abortion, Biden expressed strong criticism, labelling the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade as horrendous and directly confronting Trump on the issue. Trump, in response, defended his stance that individual states should determine abortion policy.

The discussion then shifted to immigration, an area Trump has historically been… very vocal on.

When asked about his record, Biden pointed to endorsements from Border Patrol and defended his position. He accused Trump of implementing policies that separated families and housed children in detention facilities. “He was separating babies from mothers, putting them in cages, making sure that the families are separated [when he was in office],” he said.

Trump’s surprisingly effective lines

Trump delivered several lines on various issues, including the economy, immigration, and foreign policy. He contrasted his plans for a dignified exit from Afghanistan with Biden’s criticised withdrawal and accused him of allowing criminals to enter the country through lax immigration policies.

Trump also warned of a potential third world war if the nation’s leadership were entrusted to Biden, emphasising concerns about the future under his administration.

On the economy, Trump highlighted the rise in inflation under Biden’s administration, saying, “[Biden] inherited almost no inflation, and it stayed that way for 14 months. And then it blew up under his leadership because they spent money like a bunch of people that didn’t know what they were doing.”

Even Hunter Biden got brought into the mix

Shortly after Biden criticised Trump by pointing out his conviction in New York on 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide payments to Stormy Daniels, Trump responded by highlighting Hunter Biden’s federal gun crime conviction on 11 June 2024 and an ongoing trial in Los Angeles for alleged $1.4 million tax fraud related to foreign business dealings while his father was vice president.

“He could become a convicted felon after leaving office Joe could be convicted with all he’s done. He’s done terrible things,” Trump remarked, referencing Biden’s initial denial of files from Hunter’s laptop published by The Post, linking him to activities in China and Ukraine.

Among the debate’s notable moments, Biden also remarked on what Donald Trump allegedly said about veterans, describing them as “a bunch of suckers” and “losers.”


President Joe Biden responds to former President Donald Trump's alleged comments calling veterans who were injured or died during combat 'losers,' as they face off in the first Presidential Debate of 2024, live from CNN Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. #BidenTrumpDebate #CNNPresidentialDebate #veterans

♬ original sound - CNN

Calls for reconsideration within the Democratic Party

This debate performance has led to increased calls within the Democratic Party to reconsider Biden’s candidacy, emphasising the significant impact this debate may have on the future of the 2024 presidential election. Some Democrats are now questioning whether Biden should continue as their nominee. Surely, Trump’s controversial personality still stirred a lot of eyes but this time, the Republican candidate was able to use Biden’s weaknesses to his advantage.

Remaining support for Biden despite health concerns

Despite these concerns, many Americans still believe that having an experienced and ‘steady’ president like Biden is preferable to another term under Trump. They argue that Biden’s long track record and commitment to democratic values, even if marred by age-related issues, are more reassuring than Trump’s problematic and divisive approach to leadership. The sentiment reflects a belief that stability and integrity in the presidency are crucial, even if the candidate is not as dynamic as some might hope…

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