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Key takeaways from the U.S. presidential debate with Biden and Trump – National

U.S. President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump clashed in the first presidential debate in the 2024 presidential election campaign.

They argued over the fate of American democracy, abortion and the other candidate’s family and legal trials.

Trump, often saying things that weren’t true, accused Biden of opening the border and allowing into the country migrants who are murdering Americans, claimed there was no terror during his presidency and that he did not incite a riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

“(Biden) decided to open up our border, open up our country to people that are from prisons, people that are from mental institutions, insane asylums, terrorists — we have the largest number of terrorists coming into our country right now,” Trump said.

“We call it migrant crime. I call it Biden migrant crime. They’re killing our citizens at a level that we’ve never seen before.”

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Biden repeatedly pointed out that many of Trump’s claims were not true and attacked the former president over his convictions, his encouraging rioters to enter the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021 and the affair allegations against Trump from porn star Stormy Daniels.

“The idea that you have a right to seek retribution against any American just because you’re president is wrong, is simply wrong,” Biden said, referring to Trump saying he sought revenge against political foes if he returns to office.

Here are the main flashpoints.

Concerns over Biden’s age

Moderator CNN’s Dana Bash asked Biden, who will be 86 at the end of a second term if he were to win, how he would handle the world’s toughest job.

“(Trump) is three years younger and a lot less competent,” Biden responded.

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Biden then pointed to his record, saying he has brought billions of dollars in investment to the U.S. for microchip production and created millions of jobs.

Trump, when asked the same question, said he aced two cognitive tests used to detect early dementia.

I’m in very good health,” he continued.

“I just won two club championships, not even senior two regular club championships. To do that, you have to be quite smart and you have to be able to hit the ball a long way.

The two then debated who could hit a golf ball farther.

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Biden won’t pardon son Hunter for gun crimes, supports jury’s decision

I don’t think that either man actually did what was needed to convince the American people that either one of them should be president,” political scientist and author Lara Brown told Global News.

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She said the debate represented “why so many Americans are distressed and despondent that these are their choices.”

“There is no doubt that what we saw was one president who was stuttering and stumbling over the truth and was presentationally-weak,” she said of Biden, “but who was actually making reasonable arguments.”

She said Trump was “a strong, energetic and rhetorically, apparently coherent. And yet everything that he said was full of falsehoods.”

Trump’s commitment to democracy

In a heated exchange over Trump’s role on Jan. 6, when many Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building, Biden warned another Trump presidency could result in a “bloodbath” because the former president has downplayed his role, the role of many people now charged in the attempted insurrection and spoken about pardoning them.

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Trump said he had “virtually nothing to do” with the riot, saying he told those assembled before the Capitol building was breached they should go there “peacefully and patriotically.” He then blamed the attack on former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat who sought shelter on that day.

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The fact is that there was no effort on his part to stop what was going on up on Capitol Hill,” Biden said, adding later, “He didn’t do a damn thing (to stop it).”

“And these people [the rioters] should be in jail.”

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Trump donations surge following felony convictions amid impending presidential campaign

When asked if he would respect the outcome of the upcoming election, Trump said he would if the contest was “fair (and) free,” and then said Biden will drag the U.S. into World War Three.

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When asked again, Trump said Putin would conquer Ukraine with Biden in the Oval Office.

Pushed a third time, he said “If it’s a fair and legal and good election, absolutely.

Brown said she didn’t think Biden’s attacks would resonate with voters because they came so late in the debate, and because CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, she said, didn’t ask a key question – if Trump believed he lost the 2020 election.

She said, without Tapper and Bash fact-checking the candidates, especially Trump, ill-informed viewers would go away thinking many things both candidates said were true when they weren’t.

Legal trials and family matters

“My son was not a loser. He’s not a sucker. You’re the sucker. You’re the loser, President Trump,” Biden said to Trump, citing reports that Trump called dead American soldiers “losers” while visiting a war cemetery in Europe.

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It was the first salvo in what at time became very personal attacks.

Trump claimed Biden encouraged Russia to invade Ukraine and, later, said Biden should go to jail for what he’s done to the country.

“His son is a convicted felon at a very high level,” Trump said of Biden’s son Hunter, who was just found guilty of charges relating to gun ownership.

“His son is convicted, going to be convicted, probably numerous other times and should have been convicted before.”

“How many billions of dollars do you owe, for civil penalties? For molesting a woman in public? …of having sex with a porn star on the night – an incident while your wife was pregnant, right?” Biden responded.

“You have the morals of an alley cat.”

Several times Biden criticized Trump supporting white nationalists, either telling the Proud Boys to “stand by” in their previous debate four years ago or saying “there were good people on both sides” after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.

Then, Trump made the comment during a nationally televised speech. On Thursday night he said Biden “made up the Charlottesville story.”

Brown said she didn’t think either candidate’s attacks landed because they were expected.

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While Trump is a convicted felon over his attempts to falsify business records to conceal hush money payments over the Stormy Daniels matter, as a New York court determined, the attacks didn’t land because they weren’t original.

“Attacks, are best landed when they are unexpected or they are unanticipated, like humour,” Brown said, speaking from Washington.

“We have to have an element of surprise. And if there is nothing surprising about it, it doesn’t sort of elicit a sense of memorability or outrage.”

Trump said he agreed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision not to ban mifepristone, a drug used in abortions, contradicting many lawmakers in the Republican party. But he also said states should have the power to decide whether a woman should be able to get the procedure – and he falsely claimed reintroducing Roe v. Wade allowed unrestricted late-term abortions.

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“That means (the doctor) can take the life of the baby in the ninth month and even after birth,” he said.

“That is simply not true. That— Roe v Wade does not provide for that,” Biden said, promising to reinstate the right to abortion.

Abortion opponents who claim abortions take place after birth typically refer to a “partial birth abortion,” which according to the Associated Press  is a non-medical term for a procedure known as dilation and extraction, or D&X, which is already federally prohibited and has been for more than 15 years.

Later term abortions are exceedingly rare — data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say 93 per cent of abortions happen before 13 weeks of gestation, with six per cent happening between 14 and 20 weeks, and one per cent happening beyond 21 weeks.

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“No politician should be making that decision. A doctor should be making those decisions,” Biden said.

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Trump’s comments, Brown said, “don’t speak to what his party is willing to do” on abortion.

She pointed out Biden was “somewhat awkward” on the topic because he is a devout Catholic, a religion that prohibits abortion.

One of the fiercest debated topics was immigration.

Trump falsely saying many migrants are killing “hundreds of thousands of people” and blamed Biden for their deaths.

He then said illegal migrants are “living in luxury hotels” while veterans live on the streets.

“We call it migrant crime. I call it Biden-migrant crime. They’re killing our citizens at a level that we’ve never seen before,” Trump said, claiming Biden deliberately opened the border to open allow crime to happen.

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“Every single thing he said is a lie, every single one,” Biden responded at one point.

Biden’s White House did have a deal with Republicans on border security, with Trump later encouraging the GOP not to allow the bill through.

Brown said Trump’s party are now happy to be able to run on the polarizing issue in the campaign.

As to which candidate won more undecided voters’ support, Brown said the vast majority of them likely didn’t watch the debate.

“They tune out political coverage. They’re marginally interested,” she said.

“And this is where what matters more than the debate itself is what the conversation will be about the debate later.

She told Global News both campaigns will likely by using clips from the contest, of their candidate doing well or the other slipping, in their social media campaigns.

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Biden limits asylum seekers at U.S.-Mexico border

Given that Biden’s voice was raspy and he sometimes seemed unfocused while Trump was more energetic, she believes Biden will lose some undecided voters.

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Thursday’s event was the earliest a televised debate has ever been held in a presidential election.

Brown said it, like other debates, would likely yield short-term bumps in support, but many other events are still to come that could change people’s minds – especially in a year when so many things are happening, like campus protests over the Middle East and elections in France and the United Kingdom.

“I think it becomes so, premature to decide because it seems as though, pretty much every week there is a new catastrophe, that gets blown up into this is going to be decisive in the race. And then two weeks later, it’s almost forgotten or dismissed.”

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