What’s at stake as Biden and Trump prepare for the 2024 presidential debates? | US Election 2024 News

Washington DC – It all started with a famous quote from actor Clint Eastwood:

“Make today a great day,” US President Joe Biden said in a video challenge to his Republican rival, former President Donald Trump, for two debates in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election, the first of which will air this Thursday.

Biden hurled a gauntlet at Trump, who had long bragged about his debate prowess, and made him an offer that was hard to refuse. Trump quickly responded with some bravado of his own: “Wherever you are, I’m ready to go.”

The exchange ended speculation that Biden, who is in his 80s, and Trump, who is in his 70s, might abandon nationally televised debates in favor of a more controlled, less combative environment for spreading their campaign messages, such as rallies.

A head-to-head match is a political calculation that carries high risks, said Aaron Cole, director of the debate program at the University of Michigan.

But it could also be key to gaining a lead in a stagnant race where polls show Trump and Biden neck and neck and even Trump’s historic conviction has not proved powerful enough to swing the election.

“Both candidates believe that having their opponent in the public eye for a long period of time is an advantage, especially among voters who don’t normally watch television,” Karl told NDMT.

“But only one of them is truly correct.”

History of the showdown

The debate will be the first of the 2024 presidential election but will mark the third time Trump and Biden have faced off as presidential candidates, having also faced off in the 2020 election.

“Neither of us is arguing. [since their last face-off]”That’s a little unusual,” Kahl said, noting that Trump skipped the Republican debates before this year’s primary elections.

“Both of them haven’t debated since the fall of 2020 so they’re out of practice and it may take them some time to get back into their normal debating style,” he said.

For both sides, the forum offered both pros and cons.

When Trump first ran for office in 2016, his boisterous, combative and improvisational debate style helped him become more well-known among a crowded field of Republican presidential candidates.

His subsequent debate with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton drew the highest ratings of any debate before or since, with an estimated 84 million viewers.

Trump dominates Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 debates [Rick T Wilking/AP Photo]

Karl explained that Trump’s on-camera, insult-filled, physically eerie performances, even as a reality TV star, helped solidify his public image and build his electoral base — even going so far as to appear to loom over Clinton while she spoke.

Biden, meanwhile, often struggled to gain an advantage in the fierce Democratic primary debates of his previous presidential campaigns, but experts say he proved a worthy opponent in his one-on-one vice presidential debates with Sarah Palin in 2008 and Paul Ryan in 2012.

Biden has used his down-to-earth appeal to deliver outspoken, combative and aggressive speeches on the debate stage, contrasting with his more polished vice president, Barack Obama.

Fast forward to September 2020, and then-incumbent Trump finally faced off against Biden.

The event quickly went off the rails, with Trump repeatedly interrupting both Biden and Fox News host Chris Wallace in rants and ravings. As the night went on, Wallace took on the role of frustrated babysitter. Trump came off as combative, much to Biden’s embarrassment.

“Will you just shut up?” Biden pleaded with Trump in one of the event’s most memorable remarks.

National Public Radio political reporter Domenico Montanaro later described the night’s debate as a complete mess, writing that it may have been the “worst” presidential debate in history.

“If this was supposed to be a boxing match, it would have played out with President Trump jumping on the ropes and refusing to come down, the referee trying to calm him down, and Joe Biden standing in the middle of the ring with gloves on and a bewildered look on his face,” Montanaro wrote.

What motivates you to get involved?

But the first debate is likely to be the catalyst for another spat between Trump and Biden.

Kahl said Biden is likely hoping the debate will feature some of the increasingly extreme rhetoric commonly seen at Trump rallies, but that it may not be as prominent among “moderates, independents and moderate voters.”

After all, Trump infamously refused to condemn white supremacy during the first debate of 2020, instead telling the far-right group Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

Meanwhile, Trump may be hoping the length of the live coverage will take a toll on Biden’s advanced age, Kahl explained.

The debate is expected to be well-watched, despite its unusual location in late June: The first debate between Trump and Biden in 2020, for example, was watched by 73 million people, the third-highest audience of all time.

“The average, less-informed voter doesn’t watch TV until close to the election, but they might watch the debates,” Kahl said, “so these debates are one of the few opportunities for the average person who might vote but doesn’t follow the news very much on a daily basis to see the candidates for the first time in a while.”

Second debate
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and then-President Donald Trump are photographed during the second presidential debate in October 2020. [Morry Gash/AP Photo]

The first Biden-Trump debate of 2020 also looms large over the format of Thursday’s debate, hosted by CNN in Atlanta, Georgia.

Microphones will be muted when the candidates are not speaking and there will be no studio audience – two factors widely seen as favorable for Biden. The event also will not be overseen by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, breaking with 30-year tradition.

How can candidates get the most out of the event?

The economy, inflation and migration are expected to dominate the discussion at the meeting, as well as foreign policy issues relating to China, Ukraine and Israel’s war in Gaza.

Debate moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash are also expected to cover events from the 2020 presidential election, in which Trump has openly claimed, without evidence, that the election was “stolen” through voter fraud.

Another topic of discussion will be Trump’s ongoing legal troubles. The event comes less than a month after he was convicted in New York on 34 felony counts of falsifying business documents to conceal hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The verdict makes Trump the first president in U.S. history to be convicted of a criminal offense, past or present. Biden has been careful not to overlook his involvement in the trial, but his campaign has New Advertisement Earlier this month, he touted the guilty verdict as a testament to Trump’s character.

“This election is between a convicted felon who only fights for himself and a president who will fight for your family,” the ad’s voiceover says.

But the ruling could also present an opportunity for Trump, according to James Davis, a Republican strategist and founder of Touchdown Strategies.

Davis noted that the jury’s verdict was only a minor blow to Trump’s base, and that Republicans have largely condemned the guilty verdict as politicized.

Davis added that the debate will give Trump a platform to make his case among key demographics, including young black men.

He encouraged Trump to link his conviction to the First Step Act, a bill he signed in 2018 to shorten excessively long federal prison sentences.

“He can say, ‘I knew the justice system wasn’t treating people fairly across the board… that’s why I passed the First Step Act, because the justice system has treated minorities and the black community unfairly for so many years,’” Davis told NDMT.

“If he can continue to be clean and on-message, he could do well,” he added, “but if he shows signs of bent on revenge against Trump, that could ultimately bolster some of the arguments Biden has made against him.”

Democratic strategist Christian Ramos said the debate would be an opportunity for Biden to address negative perceptions about the state of the nation’s economy. For example, Biden could tout his signature policies to create jobs.

“This is an opportunity for him to talk about what has happened over the last three years, what he has done and how he can help the American people,” Ramos told NDMT.

He also pointed to polls showing some independents are turning away from Trump since his conviction, a move that could be key in deciding the election outcome.

“That may still be too difficult for a lot of voters,” Ramos said of convicting Trump, “so this is an opportunity for Biden to get that story out to voters and appeal to them through the debates.”

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