Concerns about Biden’s age; Trump had difficulty reacting to the conviction

In a long-awaited moment, President Joe Biden has struggled to allay concerns about his age and fitness for a second term debate Thursday night with former President Donald Trump, who exploited those moments of weakness but did little to address his own weaknesses.

It was the first debate between two presidents, the first time Trump was asked about his felony conviction in a debate, and a historic early prime-time showdown between the two oldest men to be nominated by the major parties.

But it was 81-year-old Biden, not 78-year-old Trump, who scored, and his main goal was to allay concerns about his age. At a Biden viewing party in Harrisburg, attendees groaned at the early gaffe, while the mood was largely jovial among a group of Republicans gathered at a Center City bar.

“I’m afraid people will mistake his stutter for old age or Alzheimer’s,” Adrian Garcia, 27, of Mechanicsburg, said at a Democratic event. “Although Trump was rambling, he was speaking clearly the entire time.”

” READ MORE: Who won the first presidential debate — Joe Biden or Donald Trump?

Polls show Biden trails Trump in three critical swing states and remains tied with him in three, including Pennsylvania.

Here are five key takeaways from this heated debate.

Biden sought to allay concerns about his age

From Biden’s raspy voice – which some news sources say may have been the cause cold – Staring open-mouthed and wide-eyed as Trump spoke, the president often appeared lost and unfocused.

While Biden has been known for stuttering and stuttering throughout his career, several of his answers have been incoherent.

“I will continue to take action until we have a total ban — in terms of a total initiative on what we’re going to do with more border patrols and asylum officers,” Biden said in response to a question about the border.

Biden has a habit of referring to events or anecdotes without context, and he did so throughout the debate, making his answers often difficult to understand. Even some of his zingers (“you have the morals of an alley cat”) didn’t pack the same punch, given his low energy and hoarse voice.

Biden tried to reject the focus on his age. At the end of the debate, he said that Trump “is three years younger than me and much less competent.”

Trump took advantage of these moments

While Biden has produced some of his own worst moments, Trump has also taken every opportunity to point out his opponent’s weaknesses.

“I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence,” Trump said after Biden’s response on immigration. “I don’t think he knows what he said either.”

Trump, who has built his political brand on bizarre outbursts and outrageous statements, has long held himself to lower standards of decency and even won support for his brash style. On Thursday night, he was more restrained.

When asked about his fitness for office, Trump said he had taken two cognitive tests and “passed them.”

“He didn’t take any,” Trump said of Biden. “I wish he would have answered one, just one, like the first five questions. He couldn’t do that.”

The conversation then turned into an exchange about each man’s golf skills.

Trump had difficulty defending himself when criminal cases came up

Trump, the first president ever convicted of a crime, knew there would be questions about that case and others. The topic didn’t come up until about 40 minutes into the debate, when Biden brought up the hush money lawsuit, provoking Trump to say, “I did not have sex with a porn star.”

Biden also warned Americans that Trump has promised retaliation against his enemies if elected.

“The idea that you have the right to seek revenge against any American just because you are president is wrong, just wrong,” Biden said. “No president has ever said that. No president in our history has ever said that.”

Trump defended himself against allegations AND touted the large number of donations that were made to his campaign following his conviction, suggesting that such support showed that his conviction was perceived as a “fraud.”

Trump also had no up-to-date answers to some of his weakest issues, including his role in the overthrow of power Roe v. Wade and its actions on January 6, 2021.

Trump took control of the conversation — but often by lying about it

The former president was clearly in the conversation when Biden stumbled, but he did so in part by being untruthful several times. These claims were largely uncontradicted by CNN debate moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, who did not fact-check either candidate in real time.

Asked about his conviction last month for falsifying business records, Trump blamed Biden, saying he “basically attacked my political opponent because he thought it would hurt me.”

However, this case was brought by Manhattan prosecutors and New York state, not federal authorities. government. At another point, Trump falsely suggested that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, stating that “the fraud and everything else was ridiculous.”

This claim has been repeatedly debunked by experts and audits across the country, as well as in hundreds of court cases overseen by both conservative and liberal judges.

At other times, Trump made bombastic accusations that were not supported by evidence, such as claiming that Biden is a candidate from Manchuria who is “being paid by China” and that Biden “may be a convicted felon.”

Biden and Trump blame each other for inflation

Neither candidate has offered a significant policy proposal to tardy inflation — the most crucial issue for voters. Instead, they exchanged insults about each other’s achievements.

In response to a question about Americans feeling worse off financially under his presidency, Biden tried to blame his predecessor for inflation and high prices, saying that the economy had collapsed under Trump and “there was literally chaos.”

Biden described his administration’s work on the economy as “placed.”[ting] everything together,” saying Trump had mishandled the Covid-19 pandemic and unemployment had risen as a result. Trump, however, defended his administration’s economic agenda, saying: “What we never took credit for, and we should have, was getting us out of this mess with the pandemic.”

“He inherited almost no inflation,” Trump said of Biden, “and then it all blew up under his leadership because they were spending money like a group of people who didn’t know what they were doing.”

Biden also attacked Trump for his administration’s tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the wealthy. Trump defended his campaign’s proposal to impose a 10% across-the-board tariff on imports, arguing that it would not raise the price of goods as some economists had predicted, saying that “it will just cost the countries that cheat us disabled for years.”

Trump on abortion: ‘You have to get elected’

During a series of questions about abortion, Trump appeared to acknowledge that the issue of abortion was crucial in the election. He has announced that he will not sign a nationwide abortion ban and is a supporter of abortion laws that include exceptions for cases of rape, incest and saving the mother’s life.

“I think it’s very important. Some people don’t do it. Follow your heart,” he said, adding: “You have to get elected.”

The former president tried to flip the narrative on abortion by saying Democrats were “radical” and suggesting Biden favored killing babies after birth. That was a false accusation; the procedure would be illegal. And Trump has said he has no objection to states having their own abortion laws.

Biden tried to seize the moment, even as his campaign sought to make reproductive rights protection a central part of its platform. He said he supported codifying Roe v. Wadebut I stumbled over this answer, describing it in a way that is inconsistent with what Roe protected. “I support Roe v. Wadewho had three trimesters,” Biden said. “The first time is between a woman and a doctor. The second time is between a doctor and an extreme situation. The third issue is between the doctor, that is, between women and the state.

The president said the issue shouldn’t be left to the states, saying, “The idea that the states are able to do this is kind of like saying we’re going to give civil rights back to the states.”

This article was contributed to by authors Gillian McGoldrick and Aliya Schneider.

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