5 highlights from the Biden-Trump debate: Abortion, illegal immigration and golf

By The Christian Post |
CNN Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden
CNN hosted a presidential debate between former President Trump and President Joe Biden. | Youtube Screenshot/CNN

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump faced off for the first presidential debate leading up to the 2024 presidential election Thursday. The debate, moderated by CNN’s Dana Bash and Jake Tapper, took place in Atlanta, Georgia. 

The candidates discussed their policy differences on a variety of issues, such as illegal immigration and abortion, and took personal jabs at one another, including criticizing each other's golf game. 

Here are five highlights from Thursday’s debate. 

1. Trump calls the US-Mexico border ‘the most dangerous place anywhere in the world’

At the beginning of the debate, Trump railed against the “damage he’s (Biden) done to our country.” Trump specifically expressed disgust that “he allowed millions of people to come in here from prisons, jails and mental institutions” as he lamented his successor allowing the massive influx of illegal immigration.

“He’s destroying Medicare because all of these people are coming in, they’re putting them on Medicare, they’re putting them on Social Security, they’re going to destroy Social Security,” Trump predicted as he warned about the economic implications of illegal immigration. “These millions and millions of people coming in, they’re trying to put them on Social Security. He will wipe out Social Security. He will wipe out Medicare.” 

When the conversation pivoted to abortion, Trump circled back to immigration: “There have been many young women murdered by the same people he allows to come across our border. We have a border that’s the most dangerous place anywhere in the world, considered the most dangerous place anywhere in the world, and he opened it up and these killers are coming into our country and they are raping and killing women, and it’s a terrible thing.” 

2. Trump, Biden spar about abortion policy

In response to a question asking if he would block “abortion medication,” also known as chemical abortions and the abortion pill, if reelected president, Trump noted that “the Supreme Court just approved the abortion pill and I agree with their decision to have done that.” After vowing that he “will not block it,” Trump used his platform to discuss his support for allowing individual states to decide abortion policy and exceptions to abortion bans in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother in a medical emergency.

Trump transitioned into describing Democrats as “radical” on the issue of abortion. “They will take the life of a child in the eighth month and ninth month and even after birth,” he said.

The former president cited 2019 comments by former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, who suggested that under a proposed Virginia law, an “unviable” newborn would be “kept comfortable” and only be “resuscitated” if the parents wanted the baby as an example to back up his assertion that Democrats support abortion “after birth.” 

Biden condemned the idea of allowing states to decide abortion policy as a “terrible thing,” insisting that “The idea that states are able to do this is a little like saying we’re going to turn civil rights back to the states, let each state have a different rule.” When asked if he supported “any legal limits on how late a woman should be able to terminate a pregnancy,” Biden responded, “I support Roe v. Wade,” referring to the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.                     

Biden outlined how the decision, which was overturned in 2022 by the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, legalized abortions throughout the first trimester while allowing restrictions later in a pregnancy. After Biden suggested that politicians should not be “making decisions about a woman’s health,” he said it was up to the woman and the state to decide in the third trimester.

Trump jumped in to contend that Biden’s position means that “he can take the life of the baby in the ninth month and even after birth because some states, Democrat-run, take it after birth.”

“He’s willing to, as we say, rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month and kill the baby,” Trump declared. “Nobody wants that to happen, Democrat or Republican. Nobody wants it to happen.”

Biden pushed back: “You’re lying. That is simply not true. The Roe v. Wade does not provide for that. That’s not the circumstance.” 

“We are not for late-term abortion. Period, period, period,” Biden maintained. Trump disagreed, stating that “under Roe v. Wade, you have late-term abortion.”

Trump added, “You can do whatever you want. Depending on the state, you can do whatever you want. We don’t think that’s a good thing. We think it’s a radical thing. We think the Democrats are the radicals, not the Republicans.”

The discussion about abortion policy concluded with Biden expressing concern that Trump would pass a “universal ban on abortion” if he won the election and Republicans gained control of Congress. 

3.  Biden and Trump call each other criminals 

During a discussion about the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, Biden brought up how “the only person on this stage who’s a convicted felon is the man I’m looking at right now.” After Tapper asked Trump to elaborate on his statement suggesting that he would have “every right to go after” his political opponents, Trump replied that Biden “could be a convicted felon as soon as he gets out of office.”

Trump cited “all of the things that he’s done,” including “death caused at the border” due to his illegal immigration policy and his suggestion to a Ukrainian diplomat as vice president that he would withhold money from the country unless a prosecutor looking into a company that his son, Hunter, served on the board of was fired as reasons why Biden could find himself convicted of a crime. “This man is a criminal,” Trump declared.

Both men vehemently proclaimed their innocence. “I did nothing wrong,” Trump asserted. “We have a system that was rigged and disgusting.”

“The idea that I did anything wrong relative to what you’re talking about is outrageous. It’s simply a lie,” Biden responded. The president pointed out additional crimes Trump was “charged with,” including “having sex with a porn star.” 

4. Biden doubled down on the debunked claim that Trump referred to white supremacists as ‘fine people’ 

In response to a question about whether people who intended to vote for Trump “will be voting against American democracy,” Biden identified “what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia,” in August 2017 as “what got me involved to run in the first place.” In addition to alleging that people were “carrying swastikas” at the “Unite the Right” rally, the president maintained that his predecessor commented that “there were fine people on both sides” following the protests. 

“What American president would ever say Nazis coming out of fields carrying torches, singing the same antisemitic bile, carrying swastikas, were fine people?” Biden asked. Trump pushed back, telling the moderators, “both of you know that story’s been totally wiped out.”

Trump pointed to “100 percent exoneration” when it comes to the claim that he referred to Nazis and white supremacists as “fine people.”

While the former president did not specifically mention where the exoneration came from, he was referring to a fact-check from Snopes published last week headlined “No, Trump Did Not Call Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists ‘Very Fine People.’”

The article acknowledged that Trump said that the “Unite the Right” rally held to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue had “people that were very fine people, on both sides.” However, the transcript highlighted in the piece documented how Trump talked about how many people were at the event simply to protest the statue while stressing that he was “not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.”

5.  Biden, Trump question each other’s ability to serve, golf game 

Both candidates were asked to address concerns about the impact of their advanced ages on their ability to do the job. Biden will be 86 at the end of his second term should he win reelection, while Trump would be 82 at the end of his term. “This guy’s three years younger and a lot less competent,” Biden quipped.

The president pointed to his “record” as a reason why voters should trust him to serve four more years, specifically citing “15 million new jobs” and “800,000 manufacturing jobs.” Meanwhile, Trump pointed to two “cognitive tests” that he “aced” as well as his victory in “two regular club championships” on the golf course as evidence that he was up for the job. 

In addition to expressing his desire to see Biden take a cognitive test and predicting that he would fail it, Trump suggested that his opponent had an inferior golf game by remarking, “He can’t hit a ball 50 yards.” 

For his part, Biden projected confidence in his golf game: “I’d be happy to have a driving contest with him. … I got my handicap … when I was vice president down to a 6.” 

Trump disputed his claim: “Never. I’ve seen your swing. I know your swing.”

Originally published by The Christian Post