Start of the hot election campaign phase: TV duel between Biden and Trump is imminent

Start of the hot phase of the US election campaign: US President Joe Biden and his rival and predecessor Donald Trump will face off in their first televised debate of the election year on Friday night. Fierce arguments are expected on issues such as immigration and abortion rights – and also on the personal suitability of the opponents for the presidency.

According to the polls, Biden and Trump are likely to be neck and neck again in the presidential election on November 5, as they were in 2020. Their direct confrontation in front of millions of television viewers is therefore being eagerly awaited in the USA – even if it is unclear whether the two Biden-Trump duels planned so far can influence the dynamics of the election.

The TV debate is being hosted by CNN. It will take place at the news channel’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and will begin at 9 p.m. local time (Friday 3 a.m. CEST). The debate will be moderated by CNN star journalists Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. There will be no audience.

Strict rules apply to the duel. For example, the microphone of the candidate whose turn it is not will be muted – this is intended to prevent interruptions and verbal escalations, as occurred in the duels between Biden and Trump in 2020.

The televised debate will take place more than four months before the presidential election on November 5, making it unusually early. Previously, the TV debates between the US presidential candidates only took place in the last three months before the election.

Democrat Biden and Republican Trump have not yet been nominated as presidential candidates. This will only happen at the Republican party conventions in July and the Democratic party conventions in August. The second TV debate between Biden and Trump is planned for September 10.

There are other unusual things about this TV duel. The opponents have never been so old before. At 81, Biden is already the oldest president in US history, while 78-year-old Trump is not much younger.

And for the first time, a convicted former president will appear in such a television debate. At the end of May, a New York jury found Trump guilty of covering up a hush money payment to former porn actress Stormy Daniels by falsifying business documents. This makes him the first former US president in history to be convicted of a crime. The judge plans to announce Trump’s sentence on July 11.

Trump’s criminal conviction is likely to be a major topic in the TV debate – as are the three other criminal charges pending against the former president. These relate, among other things, to his attempts to retroactively overturn his 2020 election defeat to Biden and his role in the storming of the Capitol in Washington in January 2021.

In the TV debate, Biden will portray Trump, who still does not accept his election defeat, as a threat to democracy and the rule of law. Shortly before the debate, the Biden campaign released new TV spots in which Trump is branded a criminal who “only cares about himself.”

Biden has spent almost a week preparing for the debate at the US Presidents’ country estate in Camp David. For the President, it is not least about avoiding verbal slip-ups and memory lapses, which are not uncommon for him and which fuel doubts about his mental suitability for a second term.

However, Trump is clearly preparing for his rival to appear as dynamic as he did in his State of the Union address in March. In the run-up to the duel, the former president and his team spread the completely unsubstantiated allegation that Biden was getting himself going by taking stimulants.

Trump himself has dispensed with rigorous debate training and has prepared more loosely, for example by discussing the likely topics of the debate with confidants, according to media reports. The Trump team also released new TV spots shortly before the debate. In them, the president is accused of having failed in economic and migration policy – topics that Trump will also try to bring to the fore in the TV debate.