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Golf, abortion, Jan. 6 and felonies: Biden and Trump’s memorable debate moments

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Golf, abortion, Jan. 6 and felonies: Biden and Trump’s memorable debate moments

Jun 28, 2024 | 12:56 am ET
By Robin Opsahl
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Golf, abortion, Jan. 6 and felonies: Biden and Trump’s memorable debate moments
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President Joe Biden, right, and the Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump, participate in the CNN Presidential Debate at the CNN Studios on June 27, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump debated at CNN’s studios in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday night, the first showdown of the 2024 general election season for the presumptive presidential nominees.

The debate was heated, with candidates accusing one another of lying about their and their opponent’s positions on the debate stage. Both presidential hopefuls also said the other candidate was not fit for office.

In one exchange, Biden and Trump couldn’t even agree on their golf games. Trump claimed the president “can’t hit a ball 50 yards.”

“I told you before, I’m happy to play golf, if you carry your own bag,” Biden responded. “Do you think you could do it?”

Here are more memorable quotes from the 90-minute debate:

Abortion

When a moderator stated that Trump was responsible for the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Trump said, “Correct.”

Trump said that he supports exceptions for abortion bans in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the pregnant patient. He said he understands some anti-abortion activists don’t believe in that, saying “follow your heart – but you have to get elected also.”

He claimed some Democrat-led states allowed for abortions up to nine months of gestation or “even after birth.” There are no states that allow for killing a child after birth.

According to 2020 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, about 1% of abortions occurred after 21 weeks of pregnancy, while 93% were performed in the first trimester – before 13 weeks of gestation, and 6% between 14 and 20 weeks.

Biden rebutted that this claim was false, and that there were no states that allow infanticide or non-medically necessary abortions during the third trimester.

“That is simply not true,” Biden said. “That – Roe v. Wade does not provide for that. That’s not the circumstance. Only if a woman’s life is in danger, she’s going to die, that’s the only circumstance where that can happen. But we are not for late-term abortion. Period, period, period.”

Jan. 6 insurrection

Trump told moderators Dana Bash and Jake Tapper that he offered National Guard soldiers to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to help defend the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection but was turned down.

“I said, ‘They ought to have some National Guard or whatever,’” Trump said. “And I offered it to her, and she now admits that she turned it down.”

Trump was referring to video recorded by Pelosi’s daughter and provided to congressional investigators by HBO where Pelosi discusses calling the National Guard on Jan. 6. However, there is no evidence for Trump’s claim about Pelosi turning down National Guard protection and the former speaker called Trump a liar in a post to X.

“Tonight (Trump) presented another pack of lies which along, with his candidacy, must be rejected,” a tweet from Team Pelosi said. “How dare he place the blame for January 6th on anyone but himself, the inciter of an insurrection?”

Trump said he had “virtually nothing” to do with the event organized by his supporters on Jan. 6, and that he encouraged people to demonstrate “peacefully and patriotically.”

He also criticized the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, calling it the “unselect” committee.

​​Biden criticized Trump for not taking action on Jan. 6 and accused him of lying.

“The only person on this stage who’s a convicted felon is the man I’m looking at right now,” Biden said. “And the fact of the matter is, he isn’t – what he’s telling you is simply not true. The fact is that there was no effort on his part to stop what was going on.”

A New York state jury in May found Trump guilty of 34 felony counts for falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels for an affair she testified they had that Trump didn’t want to harm his 2016 election prospects.

Criminal convictions

The two also attacked one another on criminal records – Biden targeting Trump over the felony convictions and Trump bringing up Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who was convicted of three felony charges related to purchasing and owning a gun while addicted to illegal substances.

Biden said that Trump invoking Hunter Biden’s criminal charges was not relevant, and that “the idea that I did anything wrong relative to what you’re talking about is outrageous.”

He also brought up the numerous other legal battles Trump has faced in court, including the civil fraud verdict ordering him to pay $454 million and allegations of sexual misconduct.

“Think of all the civil penalties you got,” Biden said. “How many billions of dollars do you owe in civil penalties for molesting a woman in public? For doing a whole range of things, for having sex with a porn star on the night while your wife was pregnant? What, what are you talking about?”

Trump denied he had sex with the porn star.

Another exchange was over Trump’s alleged comments on veterans, calling them “suckers” and “losers,” according to an 2020 article published in The Atlantic.

Trump denied using these words to refer to veterans, characterizing the comments as “a made-up quote” in a “third-rate magazine that’s failing.”

Trump also claimed that the quote originated with Hunter Biden and called for the president to apologize to him.

“That came from his son Hunter,” Trump claimed. “There wasn’t Russia disinformation. He made up the ‘suckers and losers’ story. He should apologize to me right now.”

Biden reacted strongly to Trump’s request, saying he would not apologize to Trump for anything related to veterans. Beau Biden, the president’s eldest son who died of brain cancer in 2015, was a veteran.

“My son was not a loser and was not a sucker,” Biden said, telling Trump, “You’re the sucker. You’re the loser.”

Biden also claimed that his administration has “done more for veterans than any president has in American history.”

Immigration

Illegal immigration is causing spikes in crime rates across the country, Trump claimed without citing evidence, especially in liberal states.

“We are living right now in a rat’s nest,” Trump said. “They are killing our people in New York and California and every state in the union, because we don’t have borders anymore. Every state is now a border. And because of his ridiculous, insane and very stupid policies, people are coming in and they’re killing our citizens at a level that we’ve never seen.”

He also claimed that the U.S. had the “safest border in history” in the final months of his presidency.

“All he had to do is leave it,” Trump said of Biden, but “he decided to open up our border, open up our country to people that are from prisons, people that are from mental institutions, insane asylums, terrorists.”

Biden said that immigration policy has improved during his tenure and said that his administration has enacted more humane policies when handling undocumented immigrants.

“When he was president, he was taking, separating babies from their mothers, put them in cages, making sure their families were separated,” Biden said. “That’s not the right way to go.”

Economy

While Trump attacked Biden on inflation, Biden argued that his administration has effectively dealt with inflation caused during the former president’s tenure.

Trump called the American economy under his presidency the “greatest economy in the history of our country.” Biden said that he inherited “an economy that was in freefall” following the 2020 election.

“(Trump’s) the only one who thinks that, I think – I don’t know anybody else who thinks we had the greatest economy in the world,” Biden said.

He also claimed that Trump’s economic policies unfairly benefited wealthy Americans while hurting average families.

“And, you know, the fact of the matter is … his economy, he rewarded the wealthy. He had the largest tax cut in American history, $2 trillion. You raise a deficit larger than the president hasn’t any one term. He’s the only president other than Herbert Hoover, who, that lost more jobs than he had when he began.”

Foreign policy

The candidates sparred over U.S. foreign policy toward the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Trump said that the terms Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking in ending its conflict with Ukraine are not acceptable, but added that he believed the war “should have never happened” and could have been prevented if he remained president.

“I will have that war settled between Putin and Zelenskyy as president-elect before I take office,” Trump said, referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Biden said that Putin is a war criminal, and that supporting Ukraine is necessary to prevent further conflict in Europe and protect NATO allies.

Trump has previously said that he would let Russia do “whatever the hell they want” to countries that are members of NATO if they do not meet funding requirements.

Biden reiterated his belief that U.S. involvement is necessary, and that Trump is not mindful of the importance of NATO allies. He cited NATO’s Article Five providing that an attack on one allied nation constitutes an act of violence against all the organization’s members.

“You want to start the nuclear war he keeps talking about, go ahead, let Putin go in and control Ukraine, and then move on to Poland and other places – see what happens then,” Biden said. “He has no idea what the hell he’s talking about.”