It was the first time a sitting President and a former President had ever debated. Former President Donald Trump and sitting President Joe Biden were engaged in a war of words over abortion, immigration, foreign policy, inflation and more. US President Joe Biden delivered a shaky, halting performance with a hoarse voice, during the debate hosted by CNN. Republican rival and former US president Donald Trump hit out at Biden with a series of attacks. The debate also did not fall short of personal insults.

Here are the key takeaways from the duel:

Two ways boasting on the economy

Starting the debate with the economy, US President Joe Biden and his Republican rival Donald Trump both took credit for establishing a strong economy under their presidency and blamed the other for punishing inflation. While commenting on Biden’s performance former President Trump said, “He’s done a poor job and inflation is killing our country. It is absolutely killing us,” and everything was “rocking good” under his own. Trump also said that the US had the greatest economy the country had ever seen.
“The only jobs he has created are for the immigrants”, Trump added.

“The economy collapsed” under Trump, Biden said, and that when joined office “things had to be put back together again.” Biden blamed Trump for the biggest tax deficit by any US President, “He is the only president other than Herbert Hoover .”

On wars and withdrawal from Afghanistan

Trump said the US’ “embarrassing” withdrawal from Afghanistan prompted Putin to start the war against Ukraine. He further claimed both conflicts would not have taken place if he had been in office. To which Biden said “Trump himself agreed to the withdrawal with the Taliban a year before he left office.”

Trump said Putin would have never invaded Ukraine and likewise Israel would not have been invaded by Hamas, if he would have been in office. “I would not let anybody do business with Iran…that’s why you had no terror at all during my administration, the whole world is blowing under him (Biden),” he further added.

President Biden defended his stance on supporting Ukraine and said Russia has lost thousands of troops and has not succeeded in its aim to capture Kyiv.

Terming Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal”, Biden said that Putin has killed thousands of people. Meanwhile, on being asked whether Putin’s terms to end war — Ukraine not joining NATO and Russia keeping the territories it has annexed so far — Trump said it is “not acceptable” to him.
He reiterated his claim that he would end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, “before he takes office.” He also took a jibe at the US support to Ukraine so far calling Zelenskyy a “salesman.”

Trump said this was a war that should never have started and he would have it settled between Putin and Zelenskyy as president-elect before taking office on January 20,” he added.

The issue of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza also propped up in the debate. President Biden said that the ceasefire proposal has been accepted by Israel, and “The only one who wants the war to continue is Hamas.”

On the other hand, Trump said that Israel should be allowed to finish the job in Gaza, and mocked Biden as a “weak Palestinian.”

In a major takeaway, Trump did not directly answer if he would support an independent Palestinian state to end the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
“I’d have to see…” he said.

Nearly three-quarters of the participants in the poll said they planned to watch the debate. Nearly three-quarters of the participants in the poll said they planned to watch the debate. (File Photo)

Capitol Hill Uprising

Throughout the debate Trump kept evading accountability for the uprising on Capitol Hill. He repeated his lies and said, “On January 6, we had a great border, nobody coming through–very few. On January 6, we were independent. On January 6, we had the lowest taxes ever, we had the lowest regulations. ever. On January 6, we were respected all over the world, and then he comes in.”

The 78-year-old Trump declined to clearly state that he would accept the results of the November election, four years after he promoted conspiracy theories about his loss that culminated in the Jan. 6 insurrection,

Biden also left no chance to provoke Trump, bringing up everything from the former president’s recent felony conviction to his alleged insult of World War I veterans. “And now, he says, if he loses again — such a whiner that he is — that there could be a bloodbath,” Biden said.

On Abortion

Abortion should have been Biden’s strongest topic, yet he could not do justice while replying on abortion rights, the most important issues for Democrats in this year’s election. He was simply unable to explain Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

Backing up the Supreme Court’s judgment on rolling back access to the abortion pill mifepristone, Trump said, “The Supreme Court just approved the abortion pill, and I agree with their decision to have done that and I will not block it.” However, he said he supports exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother.

Trump was asked what he would do to make childcare more affordable. He used his answer to instead boast about how many people he fired during his term,

“It’s been a terrible thing,” Biden shot back. “The fact is that the vast majority of constitutional scholars supported Roe when it was decided.”
Biden’s wobbly answer gave Trump an opening to talk about crimes committed against Americans by migrants.

The debate on age

Biden is the oldest president to ever hold office and would be 86 at the end of a second term.
Polling shows that voters are far more concerned about Biden’s age than his opponent’s. But if Trump wins, he would break Biden’s record as the oldest president before the end of his term.
Even though Trump did not take a direct jibe at Biden’s age like he usually does, he did end up pointing at Biden’s inability to answer with clarity. After Biden trailed off from his take on border security, Trump said, “I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence. I don’t think he knows what he said, either.”
Calling Trump a whiner for not winning elections in 2020 Trump, meanwhile, at times repeated his frequent election denialism.

ELECTION YEAR, US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.  EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT ELECTION US President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump were set Thursday to hold the first of two TV debates before their expected November standoff. (Reuters photo)

On Climate Change

“The only existential threat to humanity is climate change, and he didn’t do a damn thing about it,” Biden said. Trump also made a statement saying that the Paris accord was going to cost US $1 trillion and China, Russia and India nothing.

Personal Attacks

Their personal animus quickly came to the surface. Biden got personal in evoking his son, Beau, who served in Iraq before dying of brain cancer. The president criticized Trump for reportedly calling Americans killed in battle “suckers and losers.” Biden told Trump, “My son was not a loser, was not a sucker. You’re the sucker. You’re the loser.” Trump said he never said that. Biden directly mentioned Trump’s conviction in the New York hush money trial, saying, “You have the morals of an alley cat,” and referencing the allegations in the case that Trump had sex with a porn actress. “I did not have sex with a porn star,” replied Trump, who chose not to testify at his trial.

During the concluding statement, Trump lauded his record during his first term as president and termed Biden a “complainer” and further said, “whole country is exploding because of you, because they don’t respect you,” according to CNN. Meanwhile, Democrat Biden emphasized on taxes and promises to curb inflation.