Biden Unlikely To Bounce Back: Your First 2024 Presidential Debate Recap

You know the night was beyond bad for Biden when a CNN anchor admitted, “He sunk his campaign.”

By Andrea Mew4 min read
Getty/Chip Somodevilla

On Thursday, June 27, at 9 p.m. ET, current President Joe Biden and former President Donald J. Trump took the stage for the first 2024 presidential debate. CNN hosted this debate, providing their anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash as moderators for the 90-minute showdown at CNN studios in Atlanta, Georgia.

Some were understandably skeptical of the legacy news network hosting this first debate, as they are objectively biased against President Trump (Moderator Tapper even compared Trump to Adolf Hitler at one point), but Trump didn’t back down. 

New Debate Rules

Before we dig deep into the highlights, you should be aware of one very critical element. This particular debate was different from its inception, as it followed new rules. 

Both candidates agreed to new debate rules in advance, reportedly designed to ensure a fair and balanced debate. These rules included barring candidates from communicating with their staff during commercial breaks and muting their microphones when it was not their time to speak. Additionally, neither candidate could reference prewritten notes, and both candidates had to stand behind their lectern throughout the duration of the debate.

Some of these rules understandably drew concerns from those honest about Biden’s cognitive fitness – since the president notoriously shows signs of slowing down at his not-so-ripe age of 81.

Another eyebrow-raiser: For the first time since the mid-70s, this presidential debate didn’t occur in front of a live audience. There were, of course, many live virtual audiences, but it really begs the question: Why there wouldn’t be any live, in-studio audience whatsoever? 

Now, on to the juiciest bits from the fateful evening!

We Practically Watched Elder Abuse Broadcast Live

Quite literally from the start, Biden walked out pointing and waving (to who?) and, sadly, immediately began mumbling and slurring his speech. He continued to slur his speech throughout the entire evening, and the secondhand embarrassment was real.

For instance, while Biden was addressing his effects on the economy, he froze, seemingly forgot what to say, and then puzzlingly claimed that he “beat Medicare.”

So, Trump fired back, saying, “Well, he’s right. He did beat Medicare. He beat it to death.”

Then, while discussing abortion early on in the night, Biden uncomfortably drew comparisons between women being killed by illegal immigrants and efforts to stop women from crossing state lines to get abortions.

“There’s so many young women who have been, including the young woman who just was murdered, and he went to the funeral, and the idea that she was murdered by an immigrant, they talk about that, but here’s the deal, there’s a lot of young women who are being raped by their in-laws, by their spouses, brothers and sisters. It’s just ridiculous … and they try to arrest them when they cross state lines,” said Biden.

Early June, Biden announced a border “crackdown” that will still allow for 1.8 million “asylum seekers” at the very least, each year, a move that came after immigration stops surged to an all-time high. In fiscal year 2023, over 3.2 million were stopped at the border, but Border Patrol reported that under Trump, these encounters were significantly lower. To make matters worse, Border Patrol data shockingly reports that over 1.7 million “getaways” have illegally snuck over the Southern border during Biden’s presidency so far.

According to a June AP-NORC poll, only 3 in 10 Americans actually approve of how Biden has handled immigration. When you separate out Democrats, around 6 in 10 approve of his approach, and when you separate out Republicans, fewer than 1 in 10 approve. Meanwhile, in a March AP-NORC poll, 4 in 10 Americans said there are major risks that illegal immigrants will commit crimes when they come to the United States.

And how did the current president handle this poor record on border safety? Well, while discussing immigration and public safety, Biden falsely stated that he had been endorsed by the Border Patrol. Shortly thereafter, the official Border Patrol X/Twitter account corrected the record and fact-checked him in real-time, posting: “To be clear, we never have and never will endorse Biden.”

This awkward moment was made worse by Biden’s failure to deliver coherent statements about Border Patrol and asylum officers. Trump took advantage of the opportunity to say, “I really don't know what he said at the end of that sentence, and I don't think he knows what he said either.” 

Another major highlight was when Moderator Bash asked Trump three times if he would accept the results of this upcoming election, even if he loses. The first two times, Trump didn’t directly answer, but on the third ask, he responded by saying, "If it's a fair and legal and good election, absolutely."

"I doubt you'll accept it," Biden replied, "because you're such a whiner."

And to answer what many were likely curious about: According to Politico, during the commercial break, both candidates stood quietly at their lecterns. They stared straight ahead, not looking at each other or speaking.

Biden Delivered the “Uneven Performance” the Right Warned He Would

Like him or hate him, Trump spoke clearly and coherently. Trump may sometimes use imprecise language, but even after I toggled on live captioning, it was pretty difficult to understand Biden.

When Biden was asked about his age (reminder, he would be 86 at the end of his second term), he didn’t do a very good job comforting the American people, again, stumbling over his speech. Trump, 78, however, answered the same question by mentioning how he took two cognitive tests and “aced” them. 

These aren’t editorialized concerns on my part. Almost 60% of American adults report being “very concerned” that Biden is too old to serve as president, according to June Gallup data, while only 18% have that same level of concern over Trump’s age. Even 31% of Democrats are reportedly very concerned with their party nominee’s age.

Right after the debate, Politico reported their take that “Biden bombs and Trump pounces,” adding that Biden’s own party is panicked after his “uneven performance.”

You know things are bad when CNN’s own Chris Wallace concluded that Biden “sunk his campaign.” 

“This has been, quite frankly, a car accident in slow motion,” Wallace said after the debate concluded.

Another CNN anchor, Van Jones, voiced similar concerns, saying, "I love Joe Biden. I work for Joe Biden. He did not do well at all. It's not just panic. It's pain what we saw tonight.”

So why was Biden performing so poorly? Surely, it couldn’t have been his advanced age, right? Well, two unnamed sources allegedly told NBC that Biden has a cold.

“NEW: Forty-five minutes into the debate, a source familiar with the president's debate prep confirmed that President Biden has had a cold for the past few days,” tweeted CBS News.

Can a cold indeed account for just how much the sitting president struggled – even while delivering his closing remarks? Friendly reminder that he prepped for days to deliver these remarks, and like he did at the start, failed to come up with coherent statements about Medicare, among other things.

As is often the case with these types of debates, candidates aren’t able to really explore the issues and their platforms to specifically address how they will improve the lives of the American people. 

Naturally, several moments left viewers wanting more. When Trump was given a chance to discuss climate change, he did not immediately answer the question. Similarly, when asked about the Child Care Tax Credit, Trump instead took the time to continue talking about other issues like the border and Afghanistan.

But, before the two even took the stage to duke it out, polls showed that Trump was the favored candidate over Biden. The candidate himself (of course) declared victory mere minutes after the debate concluded, but it’s true – after the debate, Trump’s momentum surged. CNN’s own flash poll post-debate placed Trump 34 percentage points ahead of Biden.

Meanwhile, after Biden left the debate stage, his own wife publicly patronized him with a pep talk about how he “answered every question,” as if he’s her own child before opening it up to the crowd to collectively shout that Trump only lied.

Closing Thoughts

The next presidential debate is supposed to take place on September 10 and is slated to be hosted by ABC. In the past, Trump has stated how he hopes for more than two debates. We’ll see if he gets his wish or if Biden caps things off at two – especially after this brutal performance on his part.

It’s not just Republicans and independent voters – now many Democrats are coming to terms with the fact that sitting president Biden is not fit for a second term. I’m sure many are even skeptical that he can finish out his current one. 

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