What to watch in the Biden-Trump presidential debate

By James Oliphant

(Reuters) – The two oldest candidates for the presidency of the United States will meet on June 27 for a televised debate like no other. One accuses his rival of being unbalanced and dangerous for democracy, while the other accuses his opponent of being senile and corrupt.

President Joe Biden81, and former President Donald Trump, who turns 78 on Friday, are essentially tied in national opinion polls with less than five months until the Nov. 5 election.

But a large portion of voters remain undecided, raising the stakes in a debate that will be seen more as possible dramatic moments than political discussions between the Democratic president and his Republican challenger.

Here’s what to watch for during the first presidential debate of 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 27, airing on CNN at 9 p.m. EDT (01:00 GMT June 28):

THE QUESTION OF PACKAGING

Both candidates could face questions about their fitness to serve, unlike previous presidential candidates.

Trump claims Biden is physically and mentally unfit for office, while Biden has called his predecessor “unbalanced” and a danger to democratic norms.

Democrats point to Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters, his other efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and his May 30 conviction on 34 counts for his involvement in a drug scheme. hush money to keep an alleged sexual relationship with a porn star secret.

On the other hand, Biden’s mental and physical strength have come under scrutiny and speculation as he seeks a second four-year term. Critics say he slows down and point to a series of verbal slip-ups; his allies claim he is still as lively as ever.

Trump regularly mocked Biden at rallies, suggesting he wasn’t up to the task.

The president’s age is also on the minds of most voters, including Democrats, and many viewers will be on alert for any sign that Biden — or Trump — is not up to the task.

Trump hasn’t faced the same questions about his stamina, but has raised eyebrows with his tendency to go off on long tangents and sometimes misidentify Biden as former President Barack Obama.

THE TEMPERAMENT TEST

Both candidates are known for their short-tempered nature and impatience. They are used to dominating the stage and getting what they want. Both have been presidents and probably see no reason to give in to the other.

“There’s a lot of tension,” said Tevi Troy, a former George W. Bush official who helped the Republican president prepare for the 2004 debates against Democrat John Kerry.

Biden shook Trump during their first debate in the 2020 race, leading Trump to what was considered a poor performance as the Republican repeatedly interrupted and bickered with the moderator. Biden then beat Trump handily.

Trump could try to put himself in Biden’s shoes by bringing up the legal troubles of the president’s son, Hunter, who was convicted this week of lying about his drug use to illegally purchase a gun. Joe Biden has a habit of deflecting such comments, but…

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