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HomeWorldBiden and Trump prepare for historic debate amid tight race

Biden and Trump prepare for historic debate amid tight race

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President Joe Biden is intensively preparing with aides at Camp David for a crucial debate against rival Donald Trump. Biden’s strategy sessions come as Trump opts for informal policy discussions between campaign stops.

The face-off, set for 9 p.m. ET on Thursday in Atlanta, will be the earliest presidential debate in modern U.S. history and a pivotal moment for both candidates.

Biden, 81, and former President Trump, 78, are neck-and-neck in national opinion polls, with many voters still undecided five months before the November 5 vote.

This debate will highlight the stark differences between the two oldest candidates ever to seek the U.S. presidency, especially as voters scrutinize their age and mental sharpness.

“It’s an incredible test of their cognitive competence,” said Patrick Stewart, a political science professor at the University of Arkansas. “This is our chance to see how much they’ve declined or if they’ve declined.”

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The 90-minute CNN debate will have strict speaking limitations, a ban on notes, and no audience, pushing both candidates out of their comfort zones. Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. didn’t qualify, leaving the stage to Biden and Trump.

Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff and a debate preparation veteran, leads Biden’s sessions at Camp David. The focus is on portraying Trump as an extremist on issues like abortion and as a danger to democracy, while emphasizing Biden’s steady leadership.

Trump’s team aims to challenge Biden on his administration’s record on immigration, inflation, and international crises. Trump has been preparing informally, holding policy discussions with advisors and senators at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Alan Schroeder, professor emeritus of journalism at Northeastern University, warns that Trump’s informal approach could be risky. “Debating is a very specific thing. It doesn’t really pay to just show up,” he noted.

The debate, with its unique format and high stakes, will be a defining moment in the 2024 presidential race, offering voters a clear comparison between the two candidates.

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