Biden–Trump First Debate: Here’s What You Need to Know and How to Watch It

The presidential debate is regarded as a stage performance featuring the two oldest candidates in U.S. history.

ATLANTA, Ga.—All eyes are on Thursday night’s highly anticipated showdown in Atlanta, where President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will face off for the first debate of the 2024 general election.

The 81-year-old Democrat incumbent and his 78-year-old opponent will be making their first appearance together in four years in what will potentially be a game-changing event in the presidential race.

Since the debate pits the two oldest presidential candidates in American history, their energy, appearance, reasoning, and reactions to questions will be intensely scrutinized. Hence, many regard this debate as more of a stage performance.

Where to Watch It?

The debate will be aired live on CNN at 21:00 EST on Thursday, June 27.

The event can also be watched on additional broadcast and cable news networks, including The Epoch Times’ sister media, NTD TV.

CNN anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will moderate the event, which will be held at the network’s Atlanta studios.

The Epoch Times will provide live blog coverage, highlighting important moments from this historic event.

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

The Debate’s Rules

The event will not have a live audience, unlike prior debates. As a result, it will not be interrupted by audience applause, cheers, or booing.

Each candidate will receive a pen, a pad of paper, and a bottle of water. However, props or prewritten notes won’t be permitted onstage.

Additionally, during the entire event, including breaks, there will be no interaction with campaign staff.

One unique feature of the debate is that the microphones will be muted when it’s not the candidate’s turn to speak.

What to Watch For?

Each candidate will argue that their policies are best for the nation.

President Biden will stress that he’s different from his predecessor by emphasizing the former president’s felony conviction. He will likely attack him on the abortion issue, describing him as “the architect” of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

He is also anticipated to defend his economic policies, repeating his claims that the former president’s tax cuts have benefited the rich.

On the other hand, former President Trump is expected to focus on illegal immigration, inflation, and the rise of wars over the past two years. He is likely to reiterate his campaign attacks on President Biden, depicting him as responsible for all three.

It will be interesting for many to watch how former President Trump reacts throughout the debate and whether he will present a more measured style.

In his recent interview with the Washington Examiner’s chief political correspondent, Byron York, the former president admitted that he lost some support after the first debate in 2020 because he interrupted the debate frequently.

“I agree, though. The second debate, I handled it much differently and got very good marks,” he said.

On the other hand, during the debate, people will closely monitor President Biden due to the growing focus on his age and cognitive abilities.

The debate offers the president a chance to address criticisms, Democrat strategist Christy Setzer told The Epoch Times.

“President Biden does tend to rise to a challenge,” she noted, mentioning how his State of the Union performance countered Republican criticisms about his age.

Former President Trump has often described the context of the debate as unfavorable to himself. In particular, he has said the host network, CNN, and the moderators, Dana Bash and Jake Tapper, are biased against him. Hence, it will also be interesting to watch his reaction to CNN moderators during the debate.

After a coin toss, President Biden chose his position on the stage, CNN announced on June 20. He picked the right podium on the right side of the TV viewers’ screen. Former President Trump will be on the left side.

But the former president will have the final word in the debate when the candidates deliver their closing statements.

This time a network is conducting the debate rather than the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which had organized the events for three decades.

Debate Preparation

President Biden has chosen the secluded presidential retreat of Camp David for his week-long intense debate preparation, which includes mock debates against an adviser playing the role of his Republican opponent.

Meanwhile, the former president has taken an unconventional approach to debate preparation. He is focusing on sharpening his policy descriptions rather than employing a mock-debate format, a campaign spokeswoman told The Epoch Times.

He has prepped by discussing policies with several confidantes, including Sens. J.D. Vance of Ohio and Marco Rubio of Florida, the spokeswoman said. Both senators have been listed as potential running mates for the former president.

How Many Will Tune In?

This year’s debate is being held earlier than usual, before any candidate has been officially nominated.

As a result, some wonder if it will attract viewers five months before Election Day.

“We know from the past that the first debate tends to be the one that’s watched the most when there are multiple debates,” Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, told The Epoch Times.

“What we don’t know is how this will be received in the middle of the summer,” he said.

An estimated 73.1 million people tuned in to watch the first presidential debate between President Trump and Joe Biden in 2020, according to Nielsen Media Research.

That was the third-largest debate audience, trailing the 2016 and 1980 debates.

According to Pew Research, the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016 drew 84 million viewers, while the debate between President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan got an audience of 80.6 million.

Given this year’s rematch, it remains to be seen whether this debate will shatter previous viewership records.

 

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