A raspy Biden gets off to a halting start against Trump in the first 2024 presidential election debate

ATLANTA – Struggling with a raspy voice and rambling answers, President Biden struggled during portions of Thursday night’s first of two debates with former President Trump in the 2024 election rematch.

But the 81-year-old Biden, the oldest president in American history, at times sharpened his answers, calling out his Republican predecessor in the White House for numerous falsehoods.

The two major party presumptive nominees traded fire over numerous issues, from the economy and inflation to immigration and border security, abortion, climate change, the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and overseas conflicts in Europe and the Mideast.

Biden at the top of the debate highlighted the economic gains during his presidency, touting that he had created jobs and was bringing down the cost of prescription drugs. But Biden acknowledged that “there’s more to be done.”


President Joe Biden speaks as he participates in the first presidential debate of the 2024 elections with former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at CNN’s studios in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 27, 2024. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

The president argued that Trump left him with an “economy in shambles,” charging that “things were in chaos.” 

Trump returned fire, charging that “inflation is killing our country,” touting that he created “the greatest economy in the world” before the COVID pandemic swept the globe during the last year of his presidency.

But Biden, who faces questions over his physical and mental stamina as he seeks a second four-year term in the White House, appeared to lose his train of thought as he answered a question on the economy, concluding with “we finally beat Medicare.” 

Trump immediately pounced: “That’s right, he did beat Medicaid, he beat it to death. And he’s destroying Medicare.”

A few minutes later, as the two candidates traded fire over the issue of immigration, Trump pounced again after another rambling answer from Biden.

“I really don’t know what he said on this, and I don’t think he knows what he said either,” Trump said.

Trump Biden CNN debate

President Joe Biden (R) and Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump participate in the CNN Presidential Debate at the CNN Studios on June 27, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. President Biden and former President Trump are facing off in the first presidential debate of the 2024 campaign. ( Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The two repeatedly traded fire during the debate.

Biden, evoking his eldest son Beau, who served in the Iraq War before dying of brain cancer, jabbed at Trump for reportedly calling Americans killed in combat “suckers and losers.”

“My son was not a loser, was not a sucker. You’re the sucker. You’re the loser,” Biden claimed.

Trump fired back, arguing that he never disparaged American troops and slammed Biden for the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, calling it “the most embarrassing day in the history of our country’s life.”

And Trump criticized Biden for presiding over “the worst presidency in the history of our country.”

Trump entered the debate one month after being convicted of 34 felony counts in the first criminal trial of a former or current president in the nation’s history.

Biden called Trump a “convicted felon” and argued that “you have the morals of an alley cat,” as he referenced allegations in the trial that Trump had sex with a porn actress.

“I did not have sex with a porn star,” Trump snapped back as he also brought up the felony convictions of Hunter Biden, the president’s sole remaining son.

And pointing to Biden, Trump said “he could be a convicted felon as soon as he gets out of office…This man is a criminal.”

Biden campaign sources explained that the president’s raspy voice was due to a cold.

Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita fired back in a social media post, arguing that the “Biden campaign telling press that after 10 days on vacation @JoeBiden has a “cold”.”

Only the Democratic incumbent and his Republican predecessor were on the stage, as the third party and independent candidates running for the White House – including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – failed to reach the qualifying thresholds. 

Biden and Trump to face off in their first 2024 general election presidential debate

A sign outside the CNN Presidential Debate site, as President Biden and former President Trump face off for the first time in four years,  on June 27, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

To make the stage, candidates needed to reach at least 15% in four approved national surveys and to make the ballot in enough states to reach 270 electoral votes, which is the number needed to win the White House.

Trump and Biden bypassed the Commission on Presidential Debates – which had organized these quadrennial showdowns for over three decades – and instead mutually agreed on the rules and conditions for their 90-minute-long debate.

Those included no studio audience and each candidate’s microphone muted except when it was their turn to answer questions.


The debate was held as polls indicate a very tight race between Biden and Trump, with the former president holding the slight edge in many national surveys and in the roughly half-dozen or so battleground states that will likely determine the election’s outcome.

Following the debate, Biden and Trump both stay in the South as they hold rallies in states they’re aiming to flip come November.

The president heads to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he’ll hold a rally Friday in a state he lost to Trump by a razor-thin margin in 2020.

While Biden’s in North Carolina, Trump will be rallying Friday in Virginia, which he lost by 10 points four years ago.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

This post was originally published on Fox News

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