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Biden, Trump spar over inflation, border, more in first presidential debate

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(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump grappled over inflation, illegal immigration, abortion and more during the first debate of this election cycle Thursday night in Atlanta.

A Quinnipiac poll released the day before the debate shows Trump with a 49%-45% lead over Biden, showing Biden needed to turn the tide Thursday night. But throughout the debate, Biden showed moments of murmuring, trailing off or seeming to lose his train of thought.

“I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence,” Trump said early in the debate. “I really don’t think he knows what he said either.”

Questions have surrounded Biden, 81, for a growing number stumbles and miscues in recent months.

CNN’s Jake Tapper, one of the debate’s two co-hosts, began by pointing to the rise of prices under Biden’s tenure, a 20% increase in food prices and a 30% increase for housing.

“Everything was rockin’ good,” Trump said, touting the economy, lack of wars and more during his term. “The only jobs [Biden] created are for illegal immigrants and bounceback jobs,” referring to jobs created by ending the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Biden defended himself, claiming Trump caused inflation, and touted the economic recovery after the COVID lockdown era. Biden also touted his work to lower the costs of prescription drugs.

Abortion, which is expected to be a major issue this election, took a prime spot in the debate. Biden promised to restore Roe v. Wade federal protections and blasted Trump, saying he would sign a conservative nationwide abortion ban.

Trump said he agreed with the recent U.S. Supreme Court issue allowing the abortion pill and blasted Biden and Democrats for their support of Roe v. Wade, saying it allows late term abortion. Trump argued the issue should go to the states.

Both candidates traded barbs throughout the debate. Biden called Trump a convicted felon and said he has the “morals of an alley cat.” Trump was convicted last month on 34 felony counts related to falsifying business documents to cover up hush money payments to a former porn actress.

“Everything he does is a lie,” Trump shot back later in the debate.

Trump repeatedly veered the debate back toward illegal immigration, crime committed by illegal immigrants, and the impact of migrants on entitlement programs.

Trump blasted Biden on the southern border crisis, saying that “because of [Biden’s] ridiculous, insane and very stupid policies” Americans are being killed, calling it “Biden migrant crime.”

Trump said the flood of illegal immigrants are bankrupting entitlement programs in the U.S.

“Our veterans are living on the street and these people are living in luxury hotels,” Trump said. “I’ve never seen such anger in our country before.

“He wants our country to either be destroyed or he wants to pick up those people as voters,” Trump continued.

When questioned about his role in the Jan. 6 storming of the Captiol, Trump pointed out that he called on protesters to act “peacefully and patriotically” and offered 10,000 National Guard troops for security prior to the protests but former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser turned them down.

Biden said the Jan. 6 protesters who have been prosecuted deserve to be in jail, but Trump defended many of them, saying some of them are “so innocent” and that rioters in other cities like Portland did not go to jail.

The debate was moderated by CNN anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash in Atlanta.

This debate is an antecedent to two major political conventions, The Republican National Convention (RNC) and Democratic National Convention (DNC), which are scheduled for July and August, respectively.

Thursday night marked Trump and Biden’s first debate against each other in four years. The first presidential debate between them took place in Sept. 2020, during the time when Trump was still in office as U.S. president. Trump and Biden were scheduled to have a second debate on Oct. 15 2020, which ultimately was canceled. The final Trump-Biden debate of 2020 occurred on Oct. 22 2020.

Another debate is expected between the two candidates this election cycle on Sept. 10.

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