On June 27 at 9 p.m. EST, the first presidential debate between current President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump was hosted by CNN. 

The debate had several new rules implemented, such as muted microphones when the other candidate was speaking and no live audience in an attempt to prevent interruptions.

The debate was 90 minutes long with two commercial breaks. According to CNN, the candidates were not allowed to speak to any individual on their staff during the breaks. 

The first question was directed toward the current state of the economy and plans to improve issues like inflation. Biden opened by saying he had to work with what Trump left him with at the end of his presidency, such as increased budget deficits. Biden added that successfully dug the U.S. out of the turmoil that was occurring in the wake of the pandemic. 

However, this first question was the start of several falsehoods claimed by both candidates. When Biden explained that he created 15 million jobs, he said that he actually created only 15 thousand jobs, greatly underestimating his accomplishment.

Trump responded that the U.S. was the greatest economy in the world, partly due to his 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which cut the corporate tax rate, benefiting shareholders. 

He stated that his tax cuts were the greatest in U.S. history, which has been proven by experts to not be true. Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cut and Obama’s 2012 tax cut extension proved to be considerably greater for the economy. 

When asked if he agrees with the Supreme Court’s recent decision to approve the emergency abortion pill, Trump said he does agree with them and that he would not pass a bill that would nationally ban abortion.

“Turning abortion back to the states is like turning civil rights back to states,” countered Biden, who has been against the overturning of Roe V. Wade in 2022 and claimed that he will continue to support abortion rights.

Biden was asked about the current border crisis under his leadership and stated, “Trump would separate babies and put them in cages. I’ve changed it so that there are 40% fewer people coming across illegally.” 

However, he incorrectly stated that the U.S. Border Patrol has endorsed him, to which the Border Patrol Union X account said, “To be clear, we never have and never will endorse Biden.”

Trump narrowed in on the overflow of undocumented immigrants, claiming that they are living in luxury hotels and kicking veterans out of shelters. Biden countered that he fully supports veterans and under him, over 1 million formerly uninsured veterans and their families now have insurance.

Biden’s late son, Beau Biden, was also a veteran. “My son was not a sucker and a loser, you’re a sucker and a loser,” said Biden in reference to Trump’s controversial 2020 statement in which he called veterans “suckers and losers.” Trump denied saying this. 

When the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol was addressed,  Trump was asked what he said to people who think he violated his role as president that day. He answered by saying that he told the protestors to go peacefully and even offered Nancy Pelosi the National Guard beforehand, which she turned down. 

This statement is not true as the Speaker of the House is not in charge of Capitol security.

Biden pointed out that Trump may have said for the protestors to be peaceful, but he also ignored individuals like Mike Pence begging him to step in and say something. 

“The only person on stage who is a convicted felon is the man I am looking at right now,” said Biden.

Trump was asked to clarify his statement that if reelected, he would have every right to go after his political opponents. He stated “I said my retribution is going to be a success. We’re going to make this country successful again because right now it’s a failing nation.” Biden refuted Trump’s aspiration of seeking political retribution by stating that, “the idea that you can seek retribution against any American is wrong.”

The conversation then shifted to the state of civil rights, to which Biden was asked what he would say to Black voters who are disappointed in the lack of progress he has made toward passing legislation to solve racial inequality.

“I don’t blame you for being disappointed. There is still a lot of work to be done,” Biden pointed out, but made sure to highlight improved access to housing and childcare for Black Americans.

Biden also claimed that the rate of unemployed Black individuals is the lowest it has ever been, which is misleading. “The Black or African American unemployment rate was 6.1% in May 2024, higher than a record set under the [Biden] administration when it fell to an adjusted low of 4.8% in April 2023,” according to CNN.

Trump responded by mentioning undocumented immigrants, saying that they are taking ‘Black jobs.’

When asked about his plans to address climate change, Biden commented on his plan to help cut carbon emissions in half by 2035 and said that he passed the most influential climate bill in history.  It was a reference to the Inflation Reduction Act, which invested billions of dollars in clean energy, electric vehicles, environmental justice and more.

Biden added that Trump left the Paris Agreement which was a worldwide effort to improve the climate. Trump claimed that the Paris Agreement was going to cost the U.S. millions and no other nation was paying into it. However, a part of the agreement was that all nations committed to collectively contribute $100 billion per year by 2020. All of the nations met this goal by 2022. When Biden rejoined the Agreement in 2021, he pledged to contribute $11 billion annually. However, Trump was accurate in that other nations have not paid as much as the U.S. since the original goal was met. 

During the discussion on the candidates’ capabilities of serving their roles due to their age, both got into a debate on golf skills. At one point, Biden claimed that Trump “can’t hit a ball 50 yards,” and Trump commented on Biden’s club swing. “I’ve seen your swing. I know your swing.”

The results of the debate were overwhelmingly negative for both candidates. Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson said that he believes the 25th Amendment should be invoked due to Biden’s apparent stutter and slip-ups, which would remove him from office and replace him with Vice President Kamala Harris. 

On the other hand, Trump has been called out for the amount of times he lied or overexaggerated during the debate.

The second debate will be held on September 10, 2024, and there is a long road ahead for both candidates.


By Liz Morin

English (Creative Writing) and Digital Journalism || Politics Minor

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