Biden, Trump face off in 1st 2024 presidential debate

The first presidential debate between incumbent Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump took place on Thursday. 

The much-anticipated face-off between Trump, who has now been convicted of 34 felony counts with serious charges pending in three other indictments, and Biden, whose age and his ability to carry out his job is constantly being called into question, was predicted to be watched or followed by most U.S. adults, according to an Associated Press poll. 

Biden and Trump met at a CNN studio in Atlanta, Georgia, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.  

RELATED: How to watch the Biden-Trump debate

FILE - Side-by-side image of former President Donald Trump (L) and President Joe Biden (R).  (Getty Images)

After the debate

Biden’s uneven performance only fueled the concerns of many Americans that, at age 81, he is too old to serve as president. It sparked a fresh round of calls for the Democrat to step aside.

Meanwhile, the 78-year-old Trump’s rhetoric offered Americans an unwelcome reminder of the bombast he launched daily during his tumultuous four years in office, as he struggles to win over skeptical voters.

10:31 p.m. ET: Protests remain peaceful in Atlanta

Protests in Atlanta remained mostly peaceful Thursday evening. Just after 10 p.m., a group marching towards the debate ended up dispersing. 

At one point, about 400 people were part of the various demonstrations, but no one was there to support either candidate in the debate. 

Atlanta police were keeping those protesters about three blocks away from the doors leading to the debate stage. 

Many of those on the streets on the hot Thursday evening were there to show support for Palestine, which they say neither candidate adequately supports. 

A handful of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. supporters were also present, though he was unable to qualify to participate in the debate. 

PeTA and pro-life activists also showed in smaller numbers. 

No arrests were reported. 

10:30 p.m. ET: Trump asked if he'd accept results of 2024 election

Trump never directly affirmed that he would accept the election results, no matter who wins.

Several times Trump noted that he would accept the results "if it’s a fair and legal and good election" but wouldn’t give a yes or no answer to moderator Bash’s inquiries.

The follow-ups came after Trump ultimately denounced political violence as "totally unacceptable."

After the moderator asked Trump three times whether he would accept the results of the November election, Biden responded that he doubted Trump would "because you’re such a whiner."

Biden noted there was no evidence of any widespread fraud in the 2020 election and that multiple courts had dismissed challenges brought by Trump’s campaign.

 US President Joe Biden, right, and former US President Donald Trump during the first presidential debate in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Thursday, June 27, 2024.  (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

10:29 p.m. ET: Responses got personal, but both candidates abided by the debate rules 

Both candidates followed the debate rules, for the most part, and didn't speak out of turn. However, throughout the night, rebukes became personal and near the end, Biden even appeared to question Trump’s weight — leading Trump to respond while his mic was muted, making his answer partly inaudible — and the two squabbled about their golf handicaps.

"Let’s not act like children," Trump replied.

Heading out of the debate, both Biden and Trump will travel to states they hope to swing their way this fall. Trump is heading to Virginia, a onetime battleground that has shifted toward Democrats in recent years.

10:20 p.m. ET: Biden addresses Americans' concerns about his age

If Biden were to be voted for a second term in office, he would be 86 once it ends.

"This guy is three years younger and a lot less competent," Biden said of his opponent. The president continued to tout the number of jobs he's created during his administration and continued to blame the economy he claims he inherited from Trump's administration. 

Trump would be 82 at the end of his second term, should he be elected. Trump claimed he took two cognitive tests and "aced them." 

"He took none, I'd like to see him take one, just one, a real easy one," Trump said. Biden could be seen visibly laughing at this response. 

"I feel that I am in as good of shape as I was 25, 30 years ago. Actually, I'm probably a little bit lighter," Trump said. "I feel the same." 

10:04 p.m. ET: Trump claimed he had ‘best environmental numbers ever’

"I want absolutely emaculate, clean water and I want absolutely clean air and we had it," Trump claimed.  

Trump continued to say that his administration had the "best environmental numbers ever," to which Biden responded with, "He's claiming to have done something, to have the cleanest water? He did not a damn thing for the environment." 

Climate change isn’t an area where Americans think Trump performed especially well as president. Nearly half of Americans said Trump hurt the country on climate change while he was president, while relatively few Americans — only about 1 in 10 — said Trump’s presidency helped the country. About 4 in 10 say he neither helped nor hurt.

They’re more likely to see a positive effect from Biden’s presidency, but it’s not an overwhelming endorsement. Nearly half say Biden neither helped nor hurt the country on climate change, while about 3 in 10 say he helped a lot or a little and roughly 2 in 10 say he hurt the country.

9:43 p.m. ET: Trump denies any encouragement in the run-up to Jan. 6 riot

Biden brought up Trump's felony conviction when addressing the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill. 

Trump continued to push back that some voters are concerned he violated his oath on Jan. 6, 2021, when supporters breached the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

"Let me tell you about January 6," Trump said to Tapper.

Tapper had asked: "What do you say to voters who believe that you violated that oath through your actions and inaction on January 6 and are worried that you'll do it again?"

"On January 6, we had a great border. Nobody coming through, very few. On January 6, we were energy 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. All over the world. We're respected."

"And then he comes in," Trump said, referring to President Biden. "...The United States's reputation under this man's leadership is horrible, including weaponization, which I'm sure at some point you'll be talking about, where he goes after his political opponent, because he can't beat him fair and square."

9:36 p.m. ET: Trump claims he'll have war in Ukraine settled before Jan. 20

Trump suggested Russia never would have attacked Ukraine if he had been in office.

"If we had a real president, a president that knew that was respected by Putin, he would have never he would have never invaded Ukraine," he said.

Trump has a long history of positive comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s toughness, including calling Putin’s tactics in the 2022 invasion of Ukraine "genius" and "very savvy."

Trump expresses no such warmth for Ukraine or Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, most recently calling him a "salesman" this month for the Ukrainian leader’s military aid requests to the United States.

9:26 p.m. ET: Border safety question leads to some unsubstantiated claims

Trump’s claim that "millions" were admitted to the country from prisons and mental institutions is unsubstantiated. There is no evidence of that.

The former president also claimed that the U.S. had the safest border in history, but it has since been turned into the "worst border" in U.S. history.

"There's never been anything like it," Trump said. "People are dying all over the place."

Trump also falsely suggested Biden was weakening the social service program because of migrants coming into the country.

He complained that migrants who arrive in the country illegally are housed in "luxury hotels" while veterans are on the street.

As expected, he also leaned heavily on discussing migrant crime. He also said migrants are coming into the U.S. illegally from "mental institutions" and "insane asylums." He has not provided evidence for that claim, which he has frequently made at rallies.

Biden has stuck to his talking points on immigration, highlighting 40% drop in arrests for illegal immigration since issuing an executive order suspending asylum.

He’s trying to gain ground on immigration, which has risen as a national priority, not just among Republicans.

Meanwhile, during the debate, the Border Patrol Union shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, that they would "never" endorse Biden.

Biden used the term "illegal aliens" while responding to Trump’s attacks on immigration.

He said that while Trump accuses migrants of taking away jobs, he said "there’s a reason why we have the fastest growing economy in the world."

It’s not the first time Biden has used terms that are rejected by immigrant rights’ groups and are not favored by Democrats. In March, during his State of the Union speech, he referred to a suspect in the killing of a Georgia nursing student as an "illegal" and later said he regretted using that term.

"I shouldn’t have used illegal, it’s undocumented," he said in an interview with MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart.

9:18 p.m. ET: Abortion question leads to immigration issue

Biden claims that he will get Roe v. Wade back following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn it. Trump rebutted, claiming Democrats are OK with ripping "the baby out of the womb, and kill the baby" after nine months. 

This is false.

Infanticide is criminalized in every state, and no state has passed a law that allows killing a baby after birth.

Abortion rights advocates say terms like this and "late-term abortions" attempt to stigmatize abortions later in pregnancy. Abortions later in pregnancy are exceedingly rare. In 2020, less than 1% of abortions in the United States were performed at or after 21 weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Abortions later in pregnancy also are usually the result of serious complications, such as fetal anomalies, that put the life of the woman or fetus at risk, medical experts say. In most cases, these are also wanted pregnancies, experts say.

"That is simply not true," Biden responded. "We are not for late-term abortion. Period." 

Trump repeated his catchall states-rights response when abortion rights came up, touting that he returned the abortion question to individual states after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which once granted a federal right to abortion.

It’s an attempt to find a more cautious stance on the issue, which has become a vulnerability for Republicans and driven turnout for Democrats.

While Trump has repeatedly claimed "the people" are now the ones deciding abortion access, that’s not true everywhere.

Voters don’t have a direct say through citizen-led ballot measures in about half the states. In those that do allow such measures, abortion rights coalitions in several states this year have faced intense efforts by anti-abortion groups to thwart citizen initiatives on reproductive rights.

9 p.m. ET: Debate starts off with the state of US economy, inflation

With the economy as the first issue of the debate, Biden detailed what he described as an American economy "in freefall," while Trump bragged about the state of the economy while he was in office, as well as his handling of the pandemic.

About 3 in 10 Americans said the economy was the most important problem facing the country in a May Gallup poll, but that included a range of economic issues.

About 1 in 10 pointed specifically to the high cost of living or inflation. About 2 in 10 Americans said immigration was the top problem facing the country, and another 2 in 10 said the government/poor leadership were the most important problem.

Biden had a raspy voice, struggling repeatedly to clear his throat, and had a halting delivery as he tried to defend his economic record and criticize Trump. Biden appeared to lose his train of thought while giving one answer, drifting from an answer on tax policy to health policy, at one point using the word "COVID," and then saying, "excuse me, with, dealing with," and he trailed off again.

"Look, we finally beat Medicare," Biden said, as his time ran out on his answer.

Trump picked right up on it, saying, "That’s right, he did beat Medicaid, he beat it to death. And he’s destroying Medicare."

8:38 p.m. ET: Biden arrives at CNN

Biden has arrived at CNN in Atlanta for Thursday's general election debate. He was accompanied by his wife, Jill.

5:34 p.m. ET: Biden drinks MAGA Tears’ ahead of debate

Biden took a jab at Donald Trump’s insinuations that he’s using drugs to enhance his debate performance.

The president posted photos on social media and a message that he’s been drinking a canned beverage called "Dark Brandon’s Secret Sauce." It’s just water in a can, but the ingredient label notes Trump’s 34 felony convictions and stresses that the main ingredient in the aluminum can is "MAGA Tears."

While Biden has tried not to dignify Trump’s criticisms, his campaign is now selling the canned water for $4.60 apiece. Biden noted that his wife, Jill, took the photos of him holding the beverage.

5:28 p.m. ET: Trump arrives in Atlanta

Trump’s private plane has landed in Atlanta ahead of Thursday's first general election presidential debate. 

A group of his supporters gathered on the tarmac to witness the landing and cheered as he touched down. 

4:45 p.m. ET: Dr. Jill Biden arrives in Atlanta

First Lady Jill Biden has arrived for the debate at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. 

Her plane taxied past Air Force One where her husband had deplaned about 90 minutes earlier. 

Like the president, Jill Biden was greeted by Democratic officials from metro Atlanta. 

She then made a brief stop at a Biden-Harris fundraising retreat at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Atlanta, where she said of her husband: "I know Joe’s ready to go. He’s prepared; he’s confident. You’ve all seen him today. You know what a great debater he is. And good is on his side." 

3:45 p.m. ET: Biden arrives in Atlanta

Biden has arrived in Atlanta. 

Air Force One landed shortly after 3 p.m. local time at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia. 

There were several top local Democrats waiting to meet the president, including Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, former Atlanta Mayor and United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, former state Senate Majority Leader and gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond, DeKalb CEO-Elect Lorraine Cochran Johnson, and former state Senator Jason Carter. 

Trump is not scheduled to arrive until 5:30 p.m. He will be landing at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Biden and Trump prepare to debate for the 1st time in 2024

Thursday's debate in Atlanta will mark at least a couple firsts — never before have two White House contenders faced off at such advanced ages and never before has CNN hosted a general election presidential debate. 

Ahead of the debate, both Biden and Trump agreed that there will be no audience present and no opening statements. 

Each candidate’s microphone will be muted, except when it’s his turn to speak. No props or pre-written notes will be allowed on stage. The candidates will be given only a pen, a pad of paper and a bottle of water. 

A coin flip determined that Trump would deliver the final closing statement. 

RELATED: Biden-Trump debate: rules to know for tonight's presidential face-off 

The event will be moderated by CNN's Dana Bash and Jake Tapper, two well-respected anchors who have not been shy about calling out Trump's lies and conspiracy theories. 

While Bash and Tapper have led critical coverage of Biden at times as well, Biden's camp is no doubt hoping that they'll play an active role in rejecting Trump's potential falsehoods in real time. While Biden's microphone will be muted when Trump is speaking, for example, the moderators' mics will not. 

Both Biden and Trump supporters view the debate as a major test for their candidate — or just a spectacle not to miss. 

RELATED: Biden vs. Trump: key issues to watch in tonight’s debate 

Biden and Trump will debate about pressing issues at the top of Americans’ minds for 90 minutes. 

The next debate is set for September and will be hosted by ABC News. 

The network has not offered details on where its event would be held, only that it would be moderated by anchors David Muir and Linsey Davis. 

And don't forget about the running mates. Trump hasn't named his yet, but Vice President Kamala Harris has accepted an invitation from CBS News to debate her eventual rival in studio on either July 23 or Aug. 13.

The CNN Presidential Debate Simulcast will air on LiveNOW from FOX. 

Mobile app users: Click here to watch 

Check back for live updates. 

The Associated Press, FOX News and FOX 5 Atlanta contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.