Biden, Trump Lock Horns In Critical Presidential Debate

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Joe Biden and Donald Trump square off Thursday in a crucial US presidential debate that carries enormous stakes for both candidates as they battle for the approval of undecided voters and any slim advantage in their neck-and-neck race for the White House.

Millions of Americans will tune in to the highly anticipated clash that fires the starting gun on what promises to be a bruising summer of campaigning in a deeply polarized and tense United States still scarred by the chaos and violence that accompanied the 2020 election.

With only two debates this election cycle and national polls showing the pair locked in the tightest of contests, Thursday’s event at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia takes on heightened significance.

For many voters, the choice between President Biden, the oldest ever incumbent, and Trump, now a convicted felon, is an uninspiring one — a dynamic both candidates need to counter as they go head to head.

For Trump, an instinctive political pugilist, the challenge will be to rein in the aggressive tendencies he unleashed — to his detriment — in their first chaotic debate four years ago.

“I think I have been preparing for it for my whole life… We’ll do very well,” Trump told right-wing network Newsmax.

The 81-year-old president will be desperate to avoid any major gaffes that could underline concerns about his age, and to focus on his key campaign message that Trump poses an existential threat to US democracy.

There will be no studio audience, depriving candidates of the momentum that comes from ginning up supporters, and microphones will cut out when a candidate’s speaking time is over

To coincide with the debate, the Biden campaign blitzed a series of fresh attack ads that labelled Trump a convicted criminal “looking out for himself,” while Trump’s team countered with TV spots accusing the Democrat of mismanaging the economy and encouraging illegal immigration.

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Trump enjoys a slight advantage in the all-important swing states but the overall polling looks extremely close in an election likely to be decided by a few photo finishes in a handful of battlegrounds.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Trump edging ahead of Biden nationally, 49 percent to 45 percent.

The rivals both step onstage for the 90-minute debate seeking to allay fears about serious political liabilities.

Biden faces the most concern about his mental sharpness, with voters much more likely to bring up his age than Trump’s, despite the Republican being just three years younger.

Ahead of the debate — the first between two candidates who have already served in the Oval Office — both Trump and Biden have had missteps, stumbling over words or appearing muddled.

Trump is also engulfed in controversy over his inflammatory rhetoric, his recent conviction on 34 counts of falsifying business records, and fears he would weaponize the presidency to settle personal scores.

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