President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump meet in the first of two 2024 debates on Thursday, June 27 at 9 p.m. ET (7 p.m. MT). The debate will take place at CNN’s studios in Atlanta and will be broadcast live on CNN.

Deseret News politics editor Suzanne Bates, in Salt Lake City, and national political correspondent Samuel Benson, in Atlanta, will provide live updates and analysis throughout the 90-minute debate.


Note: This story was updated throughout Thursday night’s debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

This combination of photos shows Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump, left, and President Joe Biden during a presidential debate hosted by CNN, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. | Gerald Herbert
What to watch for in the Biden-Trump debate
8:39 p.m. MDT|Suzanne Bates
Closing statements

Biden started his closing statement by speaking about the tax system. He said taxes need to go up on the wealthy. He also said the Medicare system should be able to negotiate drug prices, and spoke about increasing childcare credits, and trying to bring down inflation. 

Trump said Biden is a complainer and returned to his claims about the border. He also said Biden has projected weakness during his presidency leading to problems in Afghanistan, Israel and Ukraine. "The whole country is exploding because of you," Trump said, saying he doesn't think people respect Biden. He said he would cut regulations and reshore American jobs. 

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures during a presidential debate with Joe Biden, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. | Gerald Herbert
8:33 p.m. MDT|Samuel Benson
Trump refuses to say if he’ll accept election results

Moderator Dana Bash asked three times whether Trump would accept the election results, regardless of who wins. He said he would “if it’s a fair and legal and good election.

Trump has yet to concede his 2020 election loss, despite no evidence of widespread election fraud sufficient to overturn the result.

“I doubt you’ll accept the result because you’re such a whiner,” Biden said.

8:28 p.m. MDT|Suzanne Bates
The country club challenge

Like two men of retirement age, they tried to say they are robust enough for the presidency by citing their golf handicap. Biden claimed he had a handicap of 6 or 8. Trump said he won two club championships. Hard to say which one is the better golfer. 

8:26 p.m. MDT|Samuel Benson
Age on full display

The question: “President Biden, you would be 86 at the end of your second term. How do you address concerns about your capability to handle the toughest job in the world, well into your eighties?”

Biden gave a rambling answer about manufacturing, before challenging Trump’s assertion that the U.S. is a “failing country.”

“We are the strongest country in the world,” Biden said.

Trump, in turn, gave a rambling response about his mental competency, boasting that he passed “two cognitive tests” and just won “two club championships” in golf. “To do that, you have to be quite smart, and you have to be able to hit the ball,” he said.

The segment ended with Trump and Biden bickering about which individual would win a golf match and who had a lower handicap. 

President Joe Biden, speaks during a presidential debate hosted by CNN with Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. | Gerald Herbert
8:16 p.m. MDT|Suzanne Bates
Who is the worst president?

Somehow Biden and Trump ended up in an argument over whether Trump was the worst president, or if Biden is the worst president. It was hard to follow as both candidates lobbed claims at the other. 

8:11 p.m. MDT|Suzanne Bates
Social Security responses lack details

Biden said in order to save Social Security, the U.S. should raise taxes. He also claimed Trump wants to kill Social Security, as Trump shook his head. 

"I've never seen anybody lie like this guy," Trump said, claiming Biden is destroying Social Security because of his border policies. 

Neither candidate said much about what they would actually do to keep the Social Security system solvent. 

8:14 p.m. MDT|Samuel Benson
Trump 'hasn't done a damn thing' on climate, Biden says

When asked what he would do to slow the climate crisis, Trump said he wants "absolutely immaculate clean water, and I want absolutely clean air." He claimed his administration was “using all forms of energy, all forms everything. … during my four years, I had the best environmental numbers ever.” 

Biden slammed Trump's response, saying “Trump hasn’t done a damn thing for the environment.” He touted his administration’s decision to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

I texted Danielle Butcher Franz, CEO of the American Conservation Coalition, for her response to the candidates' responses. Her take:

"We all want clean air and water. It’s good that (former) President Trump agrees. Next time, Trump should go further and approach climate questions by emphasizing the need to produce more energy at home to create jobs and ensure abundant, affordable, and clean energy for all. He can highlight that growing the economy and reducing emissions are complementary goals, as American energy production drives global emissions down."

Benji Backer, founder of ACC, added that Trump was correct in calling for an "all of the above strategy," but noted that Trump should have doubled down on what, exactly, he would do as president.

"However, president Biden’s prioritization of climate and environmental policies is undeniable — and 95 has been an effective strategy to recruit and retain voters," Backer said. "A pro-environmental strategy is paramount for any candidate hoping to win this fall."

8:02 p.m. MDT|Suzanne Bates
Biden asked about disappointed Black voters

Biden was asked what he'd say to Black voters who are disappointed with the lack of progress for their community during his first term. 

Biden said he's helped Black families by focusing on housing and childcare. He also mentioned his student loan program. 

Trump said Biden is to blame for inflation that has hurt Black families and other Americans. He also blamed Biden's environmental and border policies for hurting job prospects for Black families and others. 

7:52 p.m. MDT|Samuel Benson
Trump's legal woes finally make an appearance

43 minutes passed before Trump’s status as the only ex-president convicted of a crime came up.

“Only one person on the stage is a convicted felon,” Biden said.

Trump quickly deflected from himself to Hunter Biden, the president’s son, who was recently convicted on three felony counts.

Trump then baselessly claimed that Biden “could be a convicted felon as soon as he gets out of office.”

Biden pushed back on Trump’s statement. “The idea you have a right to seek retribution against any American just because you’re president is wrong,” Biden said. 

Biden doubled down on Trump’s 88 criminal indictments, referencing Trump’s charges related to sexual assault or falsifying business records to pay off a porn star.

“I didn’t have sex with a porn star,” Trump proclaimed — though his lawyers intentionally avoided making that claim throughout the Manhattan case that eventually found Trump convicted on 34 charges of falsifying business records.

7:46 p.m. MDT|Suzanne Bates
Jan. 6th riots

At first, Trump did not want to directly answer the Jan. 6th question. Instead of responding to a question about his supporters rioting at the Capitol, he pivoted to talking about Biden's record since Jan. 6th. 

In his answer, Trump said he wanted the National Guard to be at the Capitol on Jan. 6th, and he said he told protesters to be peaceful. But Trump would not immediately ask protesters to stand down when they started rioting. 

Biden used the opportunity to remind American voters of Trump's actions -- or lack of action -- on that day. Trump has said he wants to commute the sentences of some Jan. 6th rioters, which Biden called him to task for. 

Trump said the lives of several of the people involved in the Jan. 6th riots have "been destroyed" unlike rioters in places like Portland in the summer of 2020. 

Biden asked Trump to "denounce" the people who attacked the Capitol. 

7:41 p.m. MDT|Samuel Benson
"Our strength lies in our alliances"

Biden made a case for peace in the Middle East, referencing the Israel ceasefire plan that he unveiled last month. Biden claimed the plan has the support of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu — even though Netanyahu walked back his support of the plan this week. 

Trump slammed Biden's efforts to negotiate a ceasefire, saying Israel should "finish the job." Trump accused Biden of becoming "like a Palestinian."

Biden called Trump's comments "foolishness" and expressed his allegiance to the U.S.' alliances across the globe — including Israel, Ukraine and the NATO countries. "Our strength lies in our alliances," Biden said. 

7:38 p.m. MDT|Suzanne Bates
Biden struggling to find his words

Biden has at times struggled to find words as he's answering questions. He's also at times answered questions aggressively. Trump has pointed out when Biden has struggled to answer questions. 

President Joe Biden gestures during a presidential debate with Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. | Gerald Herbert
7:36 p.m. MDT|Suzanne Bates
Starkly different views on Ukraine

The two candidates had starkly different views on Ukraine. 

Trump said he won't accept what Russian President Vladimir Putin wants in Ukraine, and said he will get the war settled fast. He also questioned the money spent in the war. 

Biden called Putin a "war criminal" and said the U.S. needs to continue to provide aid to Ukraine. 

7:30 p.m. MDT|Samuel Benson
Biden's most aggressive answer yet: on veterans

Trump finished his answer on immigration by claiming immigrants are living in "luxury hotels" while our veterans "are in the street." That opened the door to launch his strongest response of the night.

"Every single thing he says a lie," Biden said, pointing at Trump. "Every single one."

Biden touted his administration's efforts to protect veterans through the PACT Act and spoke of his late son's military service. He slammed Trump for reportedly calling fallen soldiers "losers and suckers." 

"You're the sucker," Biden said. "You're the loser."

7:28 p.m. MDT|Suzanne Bates
The southern border

Tapper asked Biden about the migrant surge that has occurred during his administration, with record numbers of migrants coming illegally across the southern border. Biden said he's made strides to try to tackle the issue, which is true in recent weeks. 

Biden said Trump put children "in cages." He said he wants more border control and more asylum officers. 

Trump said the border was safer under his presidency. He also made claims about migrants coming into the U.S. from prisons and who are terrorists. Trump said migrants are "killing people" in places like New York, and said the U.S. is an "uncivilized country now." 

While there have been some high profile cases of migrants committing crimes, including murder, studies haven't shown migrants commit crime at a higher rate than American citizens. 

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump gestures during a presidential debate with President Joe Biden, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. | Gerald Herbert
7:25 p.m. MDT|Samuel Benson
Trump's strategy: America was good, and Biden ruined it

Trump has a simple, aggressive strategy tonight: by claiming Trump's America was strong and prosperous, and Biden's America is unstable and unsafe.

“We gave him something great,” Trump said, but "we're literally an uncivilized country now."

"What this man has done is absolutely criminal," Trump said.

Biden has not yet managed to launch a strong counterattack.

7:22 p.m. MDT|Samuel Benson
From abortion to immigration

Trump praised the Supreme Court's decision to move abortion back to the states, and he acknowledged his support for exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or the life of the mother being in jeopardy. "We brought it back to the states, and the country is now coming together on this issue," Trump said. "It's been a great thing."

Biden went on the offensive — for the first time tonight — and slammed Trump for that response. "It's been a terrible thing," Biden said. "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."

But the rest of Biden's response was rambling. He brought up an example of an unauthorized immigrant committing a murder, and tried to connect it to "a lot of young woman" who are being raped "by their in laws, by their spouses." Trump immediately took it as an opportunity to transition from a discussion of abortion — a topic which he is viewed unfavorably — to immigration, on which a growing share of Americans like his positions.

7:17 p.m. MDT|Suzanne Bates
Debt and taxes

The debt is soaring, and has soared, under both presidents. Moderator Jake Tapper asked Trump if the tax cuts exacerbated the debt. Trump said the tax cuts helped grow the economy. 

The covid pandemic is looming over several of the answers from both Biden and Trump. It distorted the economy in the second half of Trump’s presidency and the first half of Biden’s. 

Biden is claiming Trump governed over the largest increase in the national debt, but that was thanks to pandemic spending. 

This debate over whether the Trump-era tax cuts should be extended will likely loom large over the presidential race. 

7:09 p.m. MDT|Samuel Benson
The economy up first

Moderator Jake Tapper's first question centered on the economy. Trump goes hard at Biden: "Inflation is killing us." Biden responded by saying we have the strongest economy in the world, and noted that Trump grew the deficit by more than any former president in a single term.

Trump sounds confident and strong; Biden sounds hushed and rambling. Worth noting as the debate continues.

7:04 p.m. MDT|Samuel Benson
No handshake

The two candidates entered from opposite sides of the stage and did not shake hands — a pre-debate custom. In an interview with CNN before the debate, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Biden surrogate, said he would've liked to see them do so. 

“I like civility,” Newsom said. “At the end of the day, we all want to be loved. We all need to be loved. We want to be protected.”

7:03 p.m. MDT|Suzanne Bates
New rules for a new era

The rules of tonight’s debate are different than debates in the past. Candidates will have their mics muted when they aren’t speaking. There are no opening statements. That could make this very different for viewers at home. 

6:59 p.m. MDT|Samuel Benson
Tonight's top issues

In poll after poll, voters say the economy and immigration are the top issues driving their votes. I imagine those will come up over and over again tonight.

In our latest Deseret News/Hinckley Institute poll of Utah voters, we asked which issues are most influential to their vote. Their responses:

  • Price increases and inflation (24%)
  • The economy and jobs (21%)
  • Immigration (13%)
  • Family values, morality, or faith (11%)
Those first three issues line up with the national electorate, and I'm sure we'll hear about them tonight. Whether these candidates talk about faith and morality is less likely.

6:30 p.m. MDT|Samuel Benson
VP watch

We're now half an hour from the start of the debate. Media members are mingling on the spin room floor with surrogates from the Trump and Biden campaigns. California Gov. Gavin Newsom is here for Biden; Vivek Ramaswamy and Rep. Byron Donalds are here for Trump.

All eyes are on Trump's VP candidates tonight. The New York Times reported that three VP hopefuls — Marco Rubio, Doug Burgum and JD Vance — will be attending tonight's debate. So far, none have made an appearance in the spin room.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.