Presidential debate replay: Democrats sweat after Joe Biden freezes during pivotal debate (2024)

Table of Contents
Donald Trump Veepstakes enter home stretch after Atlanta debate 'Sense of shock': Democrats melt down over Joe Biden's debate disaster Trump concludes: ‘We’re in a failing nation ... but we’re gonna make it great again’ Biden zeroes in on bringing down inflation, fixing tax system in closing statement A "childish" argument about golf Trump blames Biden border policies for spread of opioids Your money and the presidential debate: Trump and Biden spar over the economy, inflation Joe Biden claim: No American troops died anywhere in the world during his presidency Trump's claim: The US southern border is the most dangerous place in the world Biden: Trump ‘didn’t do a damn thing about’ climate change Trump and Biden battle over serving Black communities What happened when Biden froze? Biden hits Trump over white supremacists in Charlottesville Biden freeze sparks backlash on Twitter Biden hits Trump over his felony conviction Trump doesn’t take responsibility when asked about Jan. 6 Capitol attack Biden touts support for Israel, slams Trump on NATO Trump asked about Russia's invasion of Ukraine Biden to Trump: 'You're the sucker, you're the loser' Pressed about his deportation plan, Trump goes after Biden over border Trump: I won’t block abortion pill Trump appears to call Biden 'Brandon' On top earners paying less in taxes Biden's voice draws attention Joe Biden: The economy is coming back Donald Trump and Joe Biden skip a handshake Joe Biden jokes about taking ‘performance enhancers’ ahead of debate What time is the debate? 9 p.m. eastern to central, pacific Can I livestream the debate? How do I watch the debate without cable? How popular is Joe Biden? Longshot Trump VP pick Sen. Katie Britt is not at the first presidential debate RFK Jr. to hold his own livestream debate tonight Melania Trump? Eric Trump? Who's with Trump in Atlanta? Debate spin room buzzing hours before Trump and Biden take the stage Biden campaign to launch ads during debate Where do Donald Trump and Joe Biden stand on student loan forgiveness? Is Biden or Trump leading in the polls ahead of the debate? USA TODAY is fact checking the first 2024 debate Jake Tapper and Dana Bash: Who is moderating the debate? Jill Biden rallies supporters before debate What are the rules for the debate? Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp did not vote for Trump in the primary Who is in the debate? What channel is the debate? GOP lawmakers want to see a more measured Donald Trump Joe Biden says it's 'good to be back' in Atlanta Will tonight's presidential debate be a 2020 replay? Here's what Chris Wallace said White House reporters urge CNN to widen access during debate Will Biden and Trump shake hands? Where do Trump and Biden stand on Ukraine? Who is Donald Trump's VP pick? Everything to know about the many possibilities Trump's potential running mates trek to Atlanta Play along with presidential debate bingo Where do Trump and Biden stand on health care? Trump arrives in Atlanta How old is Donald Trump? Where do Trump and Biden stand on the economy? Looking for a debate drinking game? Mary Trump, Donald Trump's niece, to make pitch for Biden at presidential debate How old is Joe Biden? Where do Biden and Trump stand on climate change? Are Trump and Biden in Atlanta? Yes, Donald Trump is still waiting for Supreme Court to rule on immunity Democratic governors talk Biden, debate expectations How long is the debate? CNN says debate will not have an extended delay Where is the presidential debate?

Former President Donald TrumpandPresident Joe Biden brawled in thefirst presidential debateof the 2024 race for the White House – sparring over issues ranging from reproductive rights to the southern border and inflation – even with a few confusing moments.

In a response that immediately prompted questions, Biden froze as he talked about Medicare services in America. After the debate, Democrats were sweating over the president's performance and his stumbles over talking points, data and more.

The president and the former president for 90 minutes attacked each other's records on the issues facing the nation: childcare costs, the spread of opioids and other challenges. They also waged into America's role on the world stage, with moderators Dana Bash and Jake Tapper pressing the candidate on Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war.

In one of the most heated moments of the night, Biden and Trump also fought over reports that the former president called veterans who lost their lives in war 'suckers.'

Catch up with live updates from the USA TODAY Network.

Donald Trump Veepstakes enter home stretch after Atlanta debate

Now that the first debate is over,the Donald Trump running mate raceheads into overdrive.

A bevy ofpotential Republican vice presidential candidatesflocked to Atlanta to carry the flagfor Trumpbefore and after his clash with Joe Biden - and amid news reports and informed speculation that the presumptive GOP 2024 nominee could announce his decision any day now.

"He's told some people, yeah," said Lara Trump, the former president's daughter-in-law and a co-chair of the Republican National Committee, speaking to NBC News.

The Trump debate surrogate list includedthe most often mentioned possibilities: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and Sens. J.D. Vance of Ohio, Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Marco Rubio of Florida.

– David Jackson

'Sense of shock': Democrats melt down over Joe Biden's debate disaster

Democrats and other opponents of Donald Trump melted down as Joe Bidenstruggled during Thursday's debate, with some suggesting he should bow out to allow another Democrat to run instead.

Biden's voice was hoarse and raspy from the start. He stumbled over words and had to correct himself with numbers. He was sometimes hard to follow. On one occasion, the president appeared to lose his train of thought, concluding − confusingly − with the line, "we finally beat Medicare."

"That's a good man. He loves his country. He's doing the best that he can," said Van Jones, a Democratic political analyst on CNN. "But he had a test to meet tonight to restore confidence in the country and of the base, and he failed to do that."

– Joey Garrison

Presidential debate replay: Democrats sweat after Joe Biden freezes during pivotal debate (2)

Trump concludes: ‘We’re in a failing nation ... but we’re gonna make it great again’

Trump in his closing statement called Biden a “complainer” and said Biden “doesn’t do anything.”

“This man is just a complainer,” Trump said, mocking Biden. “He said ‘We wanna do this, we wanna do that, we wanna get rid of this tax, that tax.’ But he doesn’t do anything.’”

He also took aim at the Biden administration’s foreign policy, claiming that none of the crises across the world would be happening if Trump was still in office.

“We looked like fools in Afghanistan,” Trump said. Hamas’ attack against Israel on Oct. 7, Trump claimed without evidence, was such a “horrible thing that would have never happened,” if he were still president. “Ukraine should have never happened,” Trump added.

“We’re in a failing nation but it’s not gonna be failing anymore. We’re gonna make it great again,” Trump concluded.

– Ken Tran

Presidential debate replay: Democrats sweat after Joe Biden freezes during pivotal debate (3)

Biden zeroes in on bringing down inflation, fixing tax system in closing statement

Biden closed his debate performance by insisting that he would implement “a fair tax system” if he’s reelected, including guaranteeing that people who make less than $400,000 won’t see a tax increase.

He contrasted that by saying Trump increased taxes, caused inflation by fumbling the pandemic response, and will make it worse by implementing a 10% tariff on all imports to the U.S.

Biden also touted policies passed since he became president, including lowering the cost of prescriptions. And he said if he is reelected, he would advance policies to support childcare and fix “bad pipes and other things causing health problems.”

“We’re going to continue to fight inflation and give people a break,” he concluded.

Riley Beggin

A "childish" argument about golf

It took an argument about golf scores - one of their few direct exchanges - to get the two candidates to accuse each other of childishness.

"Let's not act like children," Trump told Biden.

Replied Biden: "You are a child."

– David Jackson

Presidential debate replay: Democrats sweat after Joe Biden freezes during pivotal debate (4)

Trump blames Biden border policies for spread of opioids

Asked what they would do to support people in the throes of opioid addiction, both candidates focused on the situation at the southern border.

Trump said the flow of drugs across the border was under control until the COVID-19 pandemic. “Then we had to get tough,” he said, adding that drugs were “pouring across the border.”

He argued that since Biden has come into office, the flow of drugs is back up. Biden rebutted that he fought to get equipment that could detect fentanyl coming across the border, but that Trump killed the bipartisan deal in Congress that would have funded it.

“He never argued it’s not a good bill. It’s a good bill,” he said.

Riley Beggin

Your money and the presidential debate: Trump and Biden spar over the economy, inflation

At the top of the high-stakes faceoff, Joe Biden and former Donald Trump sparred over theireconomic recordsin a bid to persuade undecided voters theirs is the winning plan toslow rising prices.

Exasperated Americans arepaying morefor the basics from check-out lanes to the gas pump, souring the national mood and making theinflation surgeone of Biden’s greatest challenges going into the November rematch with Trump.

Your money and the presidential debate:: Trump and Biden spar over the economy, inflation

– Jessica Guynn and Bailey Schulz

Joe Biden claim: No American troops died anywhere in the world during his presidency

“The truth is, I’m the only president this century that doesn’t have any - this decade - that doesn’t have any troops dying anywhere in the world, like (former President Donald Trump) did.”

Biden’s comment came following a reference to hostilities in Afghanistan during Trump’s term in office. But the notion that no troops have died in the world during Biden’s time in office is wrong.

Thirteen U.S. service members were killed in a suicide bombing attack near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul in August 2021, when Biden was president, as thousands tried to flee the Taliban’s takeover of the country, USA TODAY previously reported.

Among the deaths were 11 Marines, one Navy hospital corpsman and one Army soldier. Biden remarked on the deaths at the time, calling them “tragic.”

More recently, three U.S. Army Reserve soldiers were killed in January at a base in Jordan in what was described as a drone attack by Iran-backed militants.

–Andre Byik

For more fact checks about what Trump and Biden said, follow USA TODAY's live debate fact check here (Biden-Trump debate fact check: Separating lies from truth (usatoday.com)

Presidential debate replay: Democrats sweat after Joe Biden freezes during pivotal debate (5)

Trump's claim: The US southern border is the most dangerous place in the world

“We have a border that's the most dangerous place anywhere in the world”

This is false. While deaths, disappearances and violence do occur at the U.S. southern border, there is no evidence to suggest it is the most dangerous place in the world.

Statistics on border deaths vary. Customs and Border Protection data shows 171 people died at the border in fiscal year 2022, some in CBP custody and others while attempting to cross the border. The International Organization for Migration, a U.N.-related organization, documented 686 deaths and disappearances of migrants on the US-Mexico border in 2022.

Places all over the world and even in the U.S. have more frequent deaths. For example, there were more than 700 murders in Chicago in 2022, according to the Chicago Police Department. Chicago is 228 square miles, while the U.S.-Mexico border is 1,951 miles long.

– Brad Sylvester

For more fact checks about what Trump and Biden said, follow USA TODAY's live debate fact check here (Biden-Trump debate fact check: Separating lies from truth (usatoday.com)

Biden: Trump ‘didn’t do a damn thing about’ climate change

Trump claimed he “had the best environmental numbers ever” and said his administration took significant action to address climate change: “My environmental people gave me that statistic just before I walked on the stage actually.”

“I have no idea where he’s been,” Biden responded, touting legislation he led that made significant investments in combating climate change, including the Inflation Reduction Act. Biden went after Trump for pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords, arguing the former president did nothing to fight climate change.

“The only existential threat to humanity is climate change and he didn’t do a damn thing about it,” Biden said.

– Ken Tran

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Trump and Biden battle over serving Black communities

Asked what he says to Black voters who are disappointed he hasn’t done more to help their communities during his time in office, Biden said: “I don’t blame you” and noted inflation is hurting them. But he said he has proposed tax credits for first-time homebuyers who are Black and made it easier for Black students to take out loans for college.

He added that he supports other policies that would help Black families, such as cutting childcare costs.

Trump leaned into that response, arguing that Biden’s economic policies have hurt the pocketbooks of families of color and said undocumented immigrants are taking the jobs of workers of color.

“He caused inflation and it’s killing Black families and Hispanic families,” he said. Trump added that he funded historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and supported criminal justice reform and economic opportunity zones.

Riley Beggin

What happened when Biden froze?

Joe Biden was in the middle of answering a question about the economy during the debate on Thursday night when he began to stutter, froze on stage, and then began talking about the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We'd be able to help make sure that all those things we need to do, child care, elder care, making sure that we continue to spend our health care system, making sure that we're in every single solitary person eligible," Biden said, before taking a long pause.

He then began talking about the COVID-19 pandemic and Medicare.

"For what I've been able to do with the COVID, excuse me, with dealing with everything we have to do," he said, before taking another pause. "If we finally beat Medicare."

– Karissa Waddick

Presidential debate replay: Democrats sweat after Joe Biden freezes during pivotal debate (7)

Biden hits Trump over white supremacists in Charlottesville

In going after Trump, Biden cited the incident he says inspired him to run for president in 2020: The violent 2017 rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Biden noted that Trump said supportive things about the Charlottesville rioters. Trump accused Biden of making his criticism up, though Trump did say there were "very fine people on both sides" of the deadly demonstration.

– David Jackson

Biden freeze sparks backlash on Twitter

Biden freezing on stage when discussing healthcare quickly drew fire on X, formerly Twitter.

“Sorry, I’m voting for President Biden but a disaster so far,” wrote Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist and NBC News analyst, on the platform.

Stephen Hayes, editor and CEO of The Dispatch, tweeted, “Let the Dem panic begin.”

“Holy sh*t. Joe Biden isn’t running. He just froze. Trump is murdering him,” tweeted American writer and lawyer Clay Travis.

Sudiksha Kochi

Biden hits Trump over his felony conviction

Donald Trump responded to the fact that he is a "convicted felon" by claiming – without evidence – that Biden is a future felon.

"This man is a criminal," Trump said of his opponent, also noting that Biden's son Hunter Biden has already been convicted on a gun charge.

Biden called the accusation "outrageous," and added: "It's simply a lie." For good measure, Biden noted that Trump's criminal case involved hush money to a "p*rn star."

"You have the morals of an alley cat," Biden told Trump.

This all began with a question about Trump's claims that he may seek retribution against political opponents if he gets back into the White House.

– David Jackson

Presidential debate replay: Democrats sweat after Joe Biden freezes during pivotal debate (8)

Trump doesn’t take responsibility when asked about Jan. 6 Capitol attack

Trump didn’t take blame for the Jan. 6 2021 Capitol attack when he was asked about a mob of his supporters breaching the building in a bid to overturn the 2020 election results. Instead, he repeated his false claims that the attack was former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s fault.

Trump claimed he offered Pelosi “10,000 soldiers” to stop the attack, but Pelosi’s office has said she was never presented the offer by the former president. Pelosi also would not have had the power to refuse such an offer regardless.

In response, Biden went after Trump for his inaction during the attack, instead watching the riots unfold from the White House. He also slammed Trump for calling Jan. 6 defendants “patriots” and promising to pardon them.

“The idea that those people are patriots? Come on,” Biden said.

– Ken Tran

Presidential debate replay: Democrats sweat after Joe Biden freezes during pivotal debate (9)

Biden touts support for Israel, slams Trump on NATO

Asked what additional leverage he would use to end the Israel-Hamas War, Biden said international leaders and experts have endorsed his plan for a ceasefire, which would include trading hostages held by Hamas for a ceasefire.

He added that “the only thing I denied Israel” was 2,000-lb bombs that can do significant civilian damage, and said Israel is getting “all the weapons they need” from the U.S.

Trump said Israel wants to continue its war against Hamas. “You should let them go and let them finish the job,” he said to Biden.

Biden – in one of his more forceful responses of the debate so far – said Trump wants to pull out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and said U.S. strength relies on alliances. “He has no idea what the hell he’s talking about.”

Riley Beggin

Trump asked about Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Putin would have never invaded Ukraine if he was president, Trump claimed without evidence. But he added Putin's terms in its brutal invasion of Ukraine should not be accepted.

Biden retorted by saying he'd never heard more malarkey.

Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy

Biden to Trump: 'You're the sucker, you're the loser'

The angriest exchange of the night came when Biden cited reports that Trump has described veterans as "suckers" and "losers."

"You're the sucker, you're the loser," Biden told Trump.

Trump denied making such comments, and demanded an apology from Biden. Not a chance, Biden replied.

– David Jackson

Presidential debate replay: Democrats sweat after Joe Biden freezes during pivotal debate (10)

Pressed about his deportation plan, Trump goes after Biden over border

Trump was asked about his plans to carry out the “largest domestic deportation operation in American history” and whether he intended to deport all undocumented immigrants in the U.S., including those currently working critical jobs, whose spouses are citizens and have resided here for decades.

Trump declined to answer and instead criticized Biden over his handling of the southern border and repeated his past anti-immigrant rhetoric at the podium.

“We are living right now in a rat’s nest,” Trump said. “Every state is now a border state and it’s because of his ridiculous, insane and very stupid policies. People are coming in and they’re killing our citizens at a level that we’ve never seen.”

“We’re literally an uncivilized country,” Trump added.

– Ken Tran

Trump: I won’t block abortion pill

Trump said he won’t block abortion medication if he is reelected.

He noted that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a challenge to mifepristone, the pill commonly used in medication abortions, said he agrees with that decision, “and I will not block it.”

He took credit for appointing the justices that were crucial votes in overturning Roe v. Wade and said the states are “all making their own decisions,” later adding that “the country is now coming together on this issue. It’s been a great thing.”

Biden rebutted that it has been “terrible” since Roe was overturned. He said he would reinstate the protections under Roe if he is reelected.

– Riley Beggin

Trump appears to call Biden 'Brandon'

Trump at one point appeared to call Trump "Brandon," a reference to "Let's go, Brandon," which has become a joke and a rallying cry for Republicans.

The phraseoriginatedat an Oct. 2NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Brandon Brown, a 28-year-old driver, had won his first Xfinity Series and was being interviewed by an NBC Sports reporter. The crowd behind him was chanting something at first difficult to make out. The reporter suggested they were chanting “Let’s go, Brandon” to cheer the driver. But it was clear they were saying, “(Expletive) Joe Biden."

– USA TODAY staff

On top earners paying less in taxes

With US facing trillion dollar deficits and record debt, why should top earners and corporations pay even less in taxes than they do now?Trump said the tax cuts spurred the “greatest economy that we've ever seen. “ Just prior to Covid and even after Covid, it was so strong that we're able to get through Covid much better than just about any other country, but we spurred that tax spurred.”

– Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy

Biden's voice draws attention

One story so far, at least on social media: Biden's hoarse-sounding voice.

Pollster Frank Luntz, who is conducting a focus group on the showdown, said on X: "My focus group of undecided voters is surprised and concerned about Biden’s voice. This doesn’t bode well for questions about his health."

–David Jackson

Joe Biden: The economy is coming back

The first question is to Biden about inflation.

Biden, sounding somewhat hoarse, said the economy fell apart on Trump's watch thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is coming back under current leadership - slowly, but surely.

"Working class people" are still struggling, Biden said.

Trump replied that Biden's handling of the COVID crisis sparked inflation, and the two argued about who has the best economic approach.

– David Jackson

Presidential debate replay: Democrats sweat after Joe Biden freezes during pivotal debate (11)

Donald Trump and Joe Biden skip a handshake

Donald Trump and Joe Biden took the stage on Thursday night without a traditional handshake, walking directly to their podiums.

– Marina Pitofsky

Joe Biden jokes about taking ‘performance enhancers’ ahead of debate

Joe Biden joked about being on “performance enhancers” in a social media post shortly before the start of the debate – mocking the conspiracies pushed by Trump and some Republicans that Biden would have to take drugs to keep up.

“I don't know what they've got in these performance enhancers, but I'm feeling pretty jacked up. Try it yourselves, folks,” Biden said in the post, holding a can that reads “Biden” and his slogan “No Malarkey.”

Trump has repeatedly challenged Biden to a drug test, arguing taking artificial enhancements is the only way the 81-year-old Biden can display energy during the debate. Republicans have suggested, without evidence, that Biden was on drugs during his State of the Union address in March.

– Joey Garrison

Presidential debate replay: Democrats sweat after Joe Biden freezes during pivotal debate (12)

What time is the debate? 9 p.m. eastern to central, pacific

The CNN Presidential Debate will begin at 9 p.m. ET, which is 8 p.m. CT and 6 p.m. PT.

– Rachel Barber

Can I livestream the debate? How do I watch the debate without cable?

Yes. A livestream and recording of the first presidential debate will be available onUSA TODAY’s YouTube channel.

Rachel Barber

How popular is Joe Biden?

How popular is President Joe Biden? People are certainly curious. Searches for "Joe Biden approval rating" in the past one hour shot up by more than 150%, according to Google Trends data.

According to a recent Gallup poll, Biden’s latest 38% job approval rating remains largely unchanged from recent months and continues to put him well below the48%+ threshold all reelected incumbents in the modern era have had at the time of the election.

Hisratings among the three major party groups are also steady, with 83% of Democrats, 33% of independents and 5% of Republicans expressing approval.

Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy

Longshot Trump VP pick Sen. Katie Britt is not at the first presidential debate

Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala., one of about 20 Republicans seen as apotential Donald Trump optionfor vice president, will be watching Thursday'sfirst presidential debatefrom her home in Montgomery, Alabama, a staffer for the senator confirmed.

"I'm looking forward to watching President Trump win tonight's debate as he outlines his vision to restore secure borders, safe streets, stable prices, and strong families," Britt said in a statement to USA TODAY.

Britt's physical absence from the event in Atlanta could be a signal that theState of the Union starwill not beTrump'spick.

– Rachel Barber

RFK Jr. to hold his own livestream debate tonight

During Thursday’s presidential debate, independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is hosting a program over livestream after he failed to qualify for tonight’s event.

To make it to the debate stage, candidates had to get on a sufficient number of state ballots as well as earn at least 15% in four separate national polls. Shortly after the CNN Presidential Debate was announced last month, Kennedy filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, alleging that CNN violated federal election laws by scheduling the June debate.

Kennedy will respond to the same questions that Biden and Trump are asked in a livestreamed event moderated by John Stossel that his campaign is calling “The Real Debate.” It will start at the same time as the presidential debate and will be held in front of a live audience in a Los Angeles studio.

– Maya Marchel Hoff

Melania Trump? Eric Trump? Who's with Trump in Atlanta?

As Donald Trump arrived in Atlanta Thursday evening for the pivotal debate, some political observers were watching who's in Trump's entourage for the event.

Footage fromTrump landing in Atlantashows he deplaned alone, and it is unclear if his wife Melania or other members of his family are there with him.

But several Trump surrogates

who have also been floated for the vice presidential candidacy, are part of the entourage in Trump's spin room, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum; Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, and others.

– Kinsey Crowley

Debate spin room buzzing hours before Trump and Biden take the stage

Hours before the big matchup between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, the floor at Georgia Tech University’s McCamish Pavilion – a basketball arena converted to debate spin room – was buzzing with reporters, campaign officials and politicians.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom; Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy all were swarmed by reporters.

Trump campaign aide Corey Lewandowski and Republican National Convention co-chair David Bossie also circulated in the crowd, along with religious leader Ralph Reed. FOX News host Sean Hannity walked through the crowd and stopped to chat with Reed.

Asked about the questions Trump continues to face surrounding his character and temperament, Lewandowski said “it’s up for the American people to decide.”

“They get to decide if an 82-year-old who is practicing standing for 90 minutes should be the next leader of this country,” Lewandowski said, adding a year to Biden’s age. “Or if Donald Trump should be the leader of this country because they don’t like they way he… made some remarks.”

– Zac Anderson

Biden campaign to launch ads during debate

The Biden campaign will air a set of three ads in battleground states criticizing Trump on issues such as reproductive rights and threats to democracy, CNN reported.

The first ad, which will run before the debate, will seek to tie Trump to abortion restrictions passed by states after Roe v. Wade’s fall in 2022.

The second ad will feature a Michigan sheriff who will slam Trump for refusing to denounce the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, according to the outlet. The third ad, which will air after the debate, will focus on criminal charges across four indictments.

Sudiksha Kochi

Where do Donald Trump and Joe Biden stand on student loan forgiveness?

One of Joe Biden’s signature priorities while in the White House has been addressing student loan debt. With his effort challenged or blocked in court, the president said alternative actions by his Education Department have resulted in $160 billion in debt relief for nearly 4.6 million borrowers as of May 2024.

Donald Trump has criticized Biden’s efforts to cancel student loan debt for millions of borrowers. In 2023 he also praised the Supreme Court justices for striking down a chunk of Biden’s plan, which Trump called unfair for people who have paid back their educational loans.

– Joey Garrison, David Jackson and Marina Pitofsky

Is Biden or Trump leading in the polls ahead of the debate?

Trump and Biden are in a near dead-heat, according to a Real Clear Politics average of national polling. Trump is slightly ahead at 46.6% compared to Biden’s 45.1%, but those results are well within the margin of error.

– Karissa Waddick

USA TODAY is fact checking the first 2024 debate

The USA TODAY Fact Check Team will be investigating claims from the presumptive nominees on debate night.

We'll be watching for statements that exaggerate, mislead, misrepresent or otherwise stray from reality. Our team uses primary documents, trustworthy nonpartisan sources, data and other research tools to assess the accuracy of claims. And you won't have to take our word for it, since we'll always link our sources as we go.

Presidential debate live fact check: What Trump, Biden got right (and wrong)

– Bradley Sylvester

Jake Tapper and Dana Bash: Who is moderating the debate?

CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will moderate the debate. Both have experience moderating political debates, including CNN’s Republican Presidential Primary Debate this cycle.

On Monday, Trump spokesperson Karoline Leavitt accused the longtime political journalists of being biased during an interview with CNN's Kasie Hunt before the host abruptly ended the interview,The Hillreported.

CNN defended Tapper and Bash, saying in a statement shared with USA TODAY Tuesday, "there are no two people better equipped to co-moderate a substantial and fact-based discussion."

Rachel Barber and Kinsey Crowley

Jill Biden rallies supporters before debate

Hours before the two presumptive nominees were slated to hit the debate stage for the first time in the 2024 presidential race, first lady Jill Biden stopped in Virginia Beach on her way to Atlanta to support her husband, President Joe Biden.

“You all know that there’s two visions for America and you’ll see them tonight when you watch the debate,” she told the crowd that had gathered inside of the Biden-Harris campaign office in Virginia Beach for a sign-making event.

“You’ve already chosen your vision, or you wouldn’t be here,” she said to the crowd of Biden supporters. “The vision you’ve chosen is for strong, steady leadership versus the other vision, which is chaos and corruption.”

– Elizabeth Beyer

What are the rules for the debate?

The candidates will be provided with a pen, pad of paper and a water bottle, but are prohibited from bringing props or prewritten notes. Following a history of presidential frontrunners talking over one another, CNN announced candidates' microphones will be muted throughout the debate when it is not their turn to speak.

The candidates will also not be able to consult with their campaign teams during the event’s two commercial breaks, a departure from past formats overseen by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Biden’s campaign won a coin flip against Trump’s, giving his aides the choice between selecting the president’s podium or the order of the debate’s closing statements. The president’s campaign opted for the podium on the right side of the stage, meaning Trump's campaign got to choose the order of closing statements. His team opted to give Trump the final word.

Rachel Barber, Sudiksha Kochi and Marina Pitofsky

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp did not vote for Trump in the primary

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, revealed that he did not vote for his party’s frontrunner, Donald Trump, in the state’s primary election in March.

The governor revealed his decision – counter to that of many GOP voters and lawmakers – in an interview with CNN on the eve of the historic debate between Trump and President Joe Biden.

“I didn’t vote for anybody,” Kemp told CNN Wednesday when asked if he voted for Trump.

– Savannah Kuchar

Who is in the debate?

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will face off in the first presidential debate. Third party candidates including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will not participate in the debate.

In order to secure a spot on stage, CNN required candidates to have received at least 15% support in four approved national polls and qualify for the ballot in enough states to have the opportunity to earn the 270 electoral votes in November needed to win the White House.

Rachel Barber

What channel is the debate?

The debate will air on CNN and its related channels including CNN International and CNN en Español. Several other networks will carry the debate including Fox News, ABC News, NBC News, and NewsMax.

Rachel Barber

GOP lawmakers want to see a more measured Donald Trump

House Republicans tuning into tonight’s debate hope to see a more mellow version of Donald Trump compared to his previous debates with Joe Biden, telling USA TODAY that policy debates should be the priority for the former president.

But those GOP lawmakers acknowledged that Trump’s previous performance in debates means they can’t exactly have high hopes.

“I think he’s his own man and he’s gonna do what he’s gonna do,” Rep. Jake Ellzey, R-Texas, said. Ellzey thinks Trump is going to come off more “gentlemanly” tonight.

“You’re never gonna change Donald Trump. He is who he is, he talks the way he does,” Rep. Mark Alford, R-Mo., said. But he hopes to at least see a “little more measured approach” and “a little more hopeful.”

“You been to Baskin Robbins? There’s 31 flavors,” Alford said. “I think there’s 31 flavors of Donald Trump. You’re going to see the rocky road, you’re going to see the daiquiri ice, you’re going to see a little vanilla. But in the end, it’s gonna be something you want to take home.”

– Ken Tran

Joe Biden says it's 'good to be back' in Atlanta

Joe Biden shared photos of voters cheering in Atlanta a few hours before the first 2024 presidential debate.

"I met some incredible supporters who are fired up ahead of tonight’s debate. Let’s finish the job," he shared on X, formerly Twitter.

x.com

– Marina Pitofsky

Will tonight's presidential debate be a 2020 replay? Here's what Chris Wallace said

CNN personality Chris Wallace suggested on "The Source with Kaitlin Collins" that Donald Trump may change tactics in thefirst debate of the 2024 presidential election. Wallace moderated the first debate in 2020 between Trump and Joe Biden when he was an anchor at Fox News. That debate provided multiplecampaign changing moments.

"I’ve talked to a lot of people in the top echelons of his staff. They say he finally understands how badly he did in the 2020 debate," Wallace said. "The two words that are coming out ― you don’t usually hear from the Trump camp ― are ‘nice’ and ‘respectful.'"

– James Powel and Kinsey Crowley

White House reporters urge CNN to widen access during debate

The White House Correspondents’ Association said they're concerned about CNN’s decision to deny their request for a specific White House pool reporter inside the studio during the network’s presidential debate in Atlanta between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Currently, CNN rules state that a pool of still photographers will be allowed in the studio, but a reporter specifically representing print reporters will be given access during commercial breaks. But a broader group of White House reporters say they need more access to cover the historic event.

“That is not sufficient in our view and diminishes a core principle of presidential coverage,” the statement says. “The White House pool has a duty to document, report and witness the president’s events and his movements on behalf of the American people."

– Sudiksha Kochi

Will Biden and Trump shake hands?

It's not clear. The president's campaign co-chair Cedric Richmond told Fox News that he probably wouldn't shake Trump's hand, but he added that he believes "President Biden consistently rises above pettiness." Prior to the 2016 election between Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a handshake was a central part of decorum of presidential debates.

Karissa Waddick

Where do Trump and Biden stand on Ukraine?

Trump has called for pulling back on U.S. defense commitments, throwing into doubt additional U.S. aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia. He has also privately said he could end Russia’s war in Ukraine by pressuring its embattled government to give up territory, theWashington Postreported, despite the repeated and vehement refusal of Ukraine's leaders to cede any land in the conflict.

Biden has been a vocal supporter of additional U.S. aid to Ukraine. He struggled, but ultimately prevailed, in 2024 to get Congress to provide additional support for Israel in its fight against Hamas and for Ukraine in its war against Russia’s invasion.

– John Bacon and David Jackson

Who is Donald Trump's VP pick? Everything to know about the many possibilities

Joe Bidenand Donald Trumphave not yet been formally nominated by their party, and Trump has yet to announce his pick for avice presidential running mate.

Trump told NBC News he hasdecided on a running mate, and they could be in Atlanta for the debate. Here is what to know about Trump's vice presidential candidate search so far:

Who is Donald Trump's VP pick?Everything to know about the many possibilities

– Kinsey Crowley

Trump's potential running mates trek to Atlanta

Trump and Biden won't be the only national candidates speaking tonight in Atlanta – there are also all those Trump vice presidential candidates.

Trump surrogates who will be speaking to the media include the three most often mentioned vice presidential prospects: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

There are also long-shot Republican veep candidates surrogating for Trump, including businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida.

– David Jackson

Play along with presidential debate bingo

Ready to win presidential debate bingo? USA TODAY has everything you need to play along asPresident Joe Bidenand formerPresident Donald Trumpface off in the first of two debates as they compete to win the White House this November.

Pick a card and cross off a square every time Biden or Trump brings up one of the statements or terms. Five squares in a row, either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, wins bingo.

Rachel Barber

Where do Trump and Biden stand on health care?

Expanding health care coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act and lowering prescription drug costs remain two of Biden’s signature campaign promises in his second presidential race.

He has called health care a right, not a privilege, for all. He succeeded in winning the right for Medicare to negotiate prices for a slate of drugs for seniors and to cap their annual costs at $2,000. He has said he wants to extend both policies to all Americans.

Trump tried and failed to repeal the health care law signed by his predecessor, former President Barack Obama. Now, Trump says he does not want to repeal it but to improve it and make it cheaper. He has not released a specific plan.

As president, he did sign legislation to increase funding for substance use disorder treatment in the wake of the opioid epidemic, and in 2017 he declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

– Joey Garrison, David Jackson and Marina Pitofsky

Trump arrives in Atlanta

Donald Trump's Trump motorcade is now leaving the airport in Atlanta ahead of the debate.

– David Jackson

How old is Donald Trump?

Age has taken center stage in the 2024 race for the White House. If either candidate on stage on Thursday wins in November, they will become the oldest person to take the oath of office.

Donald Trump is 78 years old. He was born on June 14, 1946.

– James Powel

Where do Trump and Biden stand on the economy?

Donald Trump receives some of his highest marks from voters on his handling of the economy. A Wall Street Journal poll in March found a majority of voters said they trust him to do a better job than Biden in bringing down inflation, a top economic concern.

In 2017, Trump and his fellow Republicans passed a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, which would expire during the next president’s term in 2025.

Biden says he believes the best way to boost the U.S. economy is from the middle out and the bottom up. His economic plan has included the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan - a post-pandemic stimulus package - and funding for major infrastructure projects and climate initiatives.

Biden has called for an increase in the minimum corporate tax to 21% from 15%. He also wants to restore a previous version of the Child Tax Credit, make the healthcare tax credit permanent and give new home buyers a $400 a month tax credit for two years to bring down mortgage costs.

– Joey Garrison, David Jackson and Marina Pitofsky

Looking for a debate drinking game?

The first presidential debate of the 2024 general election is set for Thursday night, with presumptive Democratic nominee President Joe Biden and presumptive Republican nominee, former President Donald Trump, set to meet face to face for the first time since the White House changed hands in 2021.

Here are three games that can help you get through thepresidential debate Thursday night.

From Bingo to shotsPresidential debate drinking games, an American tradition

– James Powel

Mary Trump, Donald Trump's niece, to make pitch for Biden at presidential debate

Mary Trump, a psychologist, writer, and niece and critic of former President Donald Trump, will make an appearance in the spin room following Thursday's CNNpresidential debate, the Biden campaign said.

She will be supporting her uncle’s opponent, current President Joe Biden, and will be joined by several key Democratic leaders, including Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock, Texas Rep. Jasmine Crockett, California Rep. Robert Garcia and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

– Joey Garrison and Maya Homan

How old is Joe Biden?

Age has taken center stage in the 2024 race for the White House. If either candidate on stage on Thursday wins in November, they will become the oldest person to take the oath of office.

Biden was born on November 20, 1942. He is 81 years old.

– James Powel

Where do Biden and Trump stand on climate change?

Trump opposes most climate change legislation, a position that hasn’t changed since his term in the White House. During his presidency, he withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, a global climate initiative that Biden rejoined once he took office.

Biden has warned that denying the impacts of climate change in the U.S. and around the world is “condemning the American people to a very dangerous future.” He has also set a national goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030 and has pledged to make the American power sector 100% carbon-pollution-free by 2035.

– Marina Pitofsky

Are Trump and Biden in Atlanta?

Biden arrived in Atlanta this afternoon and greeted groups of supporters chanting “four more years” and “let’s go Joe,” according to White House press pool reports.

Trump is expected to arrive in the Peach State at approximately 5:30 p.m.

– Marina Pitofsky

Yes, Donald Trump is still waiting for Supreme Court to rule on immunity

The former president debates while he and the rest of the political world are on the cusp of an important legal ruling: A Supreme Court decision on his claim of immunity from prosecution for actions he took while in office.

Court rulings announced Thursday did not include the immunity case, which could determine when - and if - Trump is tried on criminal charges he tried to steal the 2020 election from Biden.

The high court is scheduled to issue more rulings on Friday, but that is not expected to be the final day of the current term. So the Trump immunity decision could slip until next week.

– David Jackson

Democratic governors talk Biden, debate expectations

Several Democratic governors from across the country gathered in Minneapolis Monday on the anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. While there, they looked ahead to tonight’s debate.

“This will be the first opportunity in a long time for people to see the contrast of these two people side by side,” Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly told USA TODAY. “And I think if people are watching with open minds, open eyes, the contrast will be startling.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he wouldn’t give the president and leader of his party any advice ahead of the 2024 showdown.

“This isn't theoretical. There's two people who are going to be president, one or the other,” Walz said. “There's going to be a vision that's hopeful, compassionate, optimistic, addressing climate change, addressing inequities. And then there's going to be grievance filled, you know, anger coming from former President Trump.”

– Savannah Kuchar

How long is the debate?

The debate is scheduled to last 90 minutes and will include two commercial breaks.

– Rachel Barber

Must-watch cringe TV:Few swing state voters want to see Trump-Biden debate

CNN says debate will not have an extended delay

CNN corrected rumors that the first presidential debate will air with a 1–2-minute delay, instead of the standard 7-second delay, allowing the network to potentially edit parts of the broadcast. CNN Communicationsresponded in a poston X, formerly Twitter, stating “This is false. The debate will begin live at 9pm ET.”

– Rachel Barber

Where is the presidential debate?

The first presidential debate will take place atCNN’s studio in Atlanta, Georgia, without a live studio audience.

Rachel Barber

Presidential debate replay: Democrats sweat after Joe Biden freezes during pivotal debate (2024)
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