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Trump Biden June 2024 Debate Fact Check

CNN moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash adopted a hands-off approach during the June 2024 presidential debate, avoiding real-time fact-checking. This led to a less contentious, but more chaotic debate stage. Candidates were allowed to make unchecked claims, with the moderators primarily facilitating discussion rather than participating.

When Trump claimed Biden had the largest number of terrorists entering the country, there was no interjection. Similarly, Trump's assertion that Nancy Pelosi had turned down the National Guard offer on January 6 went unchallenged directly by the moderators. Biden countered briefly, but the original misinformation stood uncorrected in the moment.

The moderators' restrained posture meant more room for misinformation to go unchecked. Statements like Trump's claim about Democrats supporting abortion until birth stirred controversy without real-time rebuttal. The absence of fact-checking invariably shaped how topics evolved and left viewers with the task of discerning truth from fiction on their own.

Two presidential candidates at their podiums during a debate, with CNN moderators in the foreground

Key Fact-Checked Claims

Abortion Claims

Trump asserted that "Democrats support abortion until birth," mentioning former Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's alleged advocacy for infanticide. However, CDC data shows less than 1% of abortions occur at or beyond 21 weeks, usually due to severe medical complications1. Northam's actual comments, taken out of context, were about medical discussions in difficult situations involving non-viable fetuses.

Environmental Statistics

Trump boasted about having "the best environmental numbers ever." EPA data and policies during his administration reflected significant rollbacks on environmental protections. Studies highlight how 75 regulatory rollbacks potentially increased pollution levels and worsened climate change2.

Economic Claims

Trump's assertion of delivering "the largest tax cut in history" falls short upon scrutiny. Analyses show that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), although significant, does not surpass previous tax cuts like those under President Ronald Reagan3.

Biden incorrectly stated that the economy was "collapsed" when he took office and that there were no jobs left. In reality, employment rates rebounded fairly quickly after the initial pandemic-induced dip.

January 6 Claims

Trump's claim that "Nancy Pelosi turned down the National Guard" for January 6 is factually incorrect. The President holds the authority to call in the National Guard in Washington, D.C., not the Speaker of the House.

Immigration Assertions

Trump's assertion that "millions of people from prisons, jails, and mental institutions" were coming into the United States under Biden's watch is unfounded. Data from the Department of Homeland Security and various immigrant tracking studies do not support this claim.

Biden overstated the degree to which his administration reduced illegal border crossings by claiming a "40 percent drop." While apprehensions may have declined recently, they are still markedly higher than in the late Trump administration.

These fact-checks highlight the disparity between political rhetoric and factual accuracy, underscoring the need for vigilant fact-checking within electoral discourse.

How might we as citizens better equip ourselves to discern truth from fiction in political debates?

A fact-checker diligently working at a desk surrounded by documents and computer screens

Reactions and Political Ramifications

The debate's aftermath sparked varied responses from both parties, shaping the political landscape.

Democratic Response

  • Nancy Pelosi described Biden's performance as lacking "necessary vigor," raising concerns about his re-election campaign.
  • Barack Obama is reportedly urging behind-the-scenes discussions on potential contingency plans.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris attempted to deflect criticism, emphasizing the administration's track record and "substance over style."

Some Democratic lawmakers are considering the idea of an open convention, underscoring growing anxiety within the party. This sentiment aligns with fears that Biden's perceived weaknesses could jeopardize their chances in upcoming elections.

Republican Stance

Donald Trump declared the debate a victory, framing Biden as "grossly incompetent." GOP strategists began shaping their message around Biden's struggles to articulate a clear vision, leveraging this to fuel their campaigns further.

Calls for Open Convention

The debate has reignited discussions among Democrats about an open convention, particularly in battleground states where concerns about down-ballot impacts are pronounced. House members in competitive districts are commissioning polls to assess the potential fallout.

Notable Reactions

"There is a sense of shock at how he came out at the beginning of this debate, how his voice sounded. He seemed a little disoriented." – David Axelrod
"You don't turn your back. You go home with the one that brought you to the dance. One hundred percent all in." – California Governor Gavin Newsom
"This debate showed that it's not just about age; it's about competence. Biden simply didn't measure up." – Republican Senator Rick Scott

The 2024 debate has altered both parties' strategies moving forward. For Democrats, it has necessitated a critical evaluation of Biden's candidacy. Republicans aim to harness the momentum from Trump's performance to solidify their electoral strategy.

As we reflect on these developments, how might this debate influence the direction of our constitutional republic? What lessons can we draw from the Founding Fathers' wisdom in navigating such political challenges?

A group of politicians from both parties reacting to the debate on television
  1. Kortsmit K, Jatlaoui TC, Mandel MG, et al. Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2019. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2021;70(9):1-29.
  2. Popovich N, Albeck-Ripka L, Pierre-Louis K. The Trump Administration Is Reversing 100 Environmental Rules. Here's the Full List. The New York Times. 2020.
  3. Tempalski J. Revenue Effects of Major Tax Bills. Office of Tax Analysis Working Paper 81, OTA Paper 81. US Department of the Treasury. 2006.