Joe Biden and Donald Trump Prepare for High-Stakes Presidential Debate

Race and the Supreme Court at the Forefront

by Faruk Imamovic
Joe Biden and Donald Trump Prepare for High-Stakes Presidential Debate
© Getty Images

The 2024 presidential campaign trail has intensified as President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump gear up for a crucial debate, highlighting sharp divisions over race and the future of the Supreme Court. This debate, anticipated to be one of the most critical clashes in recent political history, is set to take place in Atlanta on June 27, marking the first major face-off between the two candidates.

The Biden and Trump campaigns are currently vying for the support of Black Americans, a demographic traditionally aligned with the Democratic Party. Despite his controversial history on race, Trump is striving to make inroads with this voter base. Meanwhile, the Republican Party, solidifying its support for Trump despite his criminal convictions and his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results, is fully backing him in the hope of reclaiming the White House, the Senate, and retaining the House.

President Biden, fresh from his second trip to Europe within a week, attended a high-profile fundraiser in Los Angeles where he highlighted the potential dangers of a second Trump term, particularly the possibility of Trump appointing more hardline conservative justices to the Supreme Court. Former President Barack Obama, who joined Biden at the fundraiser, emphasized the gravity of having a candidate like Trump, who was “convicted by a jury of his peers on 34 counts,” representing the Republican Party.

Campaign Strategies Intensify

As the first presidential debate looms, both campaigns are sharpening their strategies. The upcoming debate, hosted by CNN, is seen as a pivotal moment that could shape the trajectory of the campaign. Biden, at 81 years old, faces significant pressure to demonstrate his capability for another term, amidst concerns about his age and health. Trump has relentlessly mocked Biden’s mental and physical fitness, but this constant ridiculing might lower expectations for Biden, potentially benefiting him if he performs energetically.

Trump’s recent volatile behavior, including his celebration of his 78th birthday, has led the Biden campaign to question Trump’s mental stability and fitness for office. The Biden team argues that Trump’s actions, particularly his involvement in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack, make him unfit for the presidency. Describing Trump as “more unhinged than ever before,” Biden’s campaign highlighted Trump’s recent embrace by GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

The debate’s early timing provides an opportunity for Biden to energize his campaign, especially as Trump continues to poll strongly in key swing states. Biden’s path to the necessary 270 electoral votes appears narrow, with economic challenges like high prices and elevated interest rates affecting many Americans, offering Trump a chance to reminisce about the pre-pandemic economy during his presidency.

CNN’s recent announcement about the debate details revealed that it will take place in a television studio without a live audience, featuring two commercial breaks, and strict rules on candidate interactions. Both candidates will speak from uniform podiums, with microphone muting except during their allotted speaking times. Biden is expected to prepare intensely at Camp David with his former chief of staff, Ron Klain, while Trump’s preparation seems less traditional, relying on interviews and rallies rather than formal debate prep.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump
Joe Biden and Donald Trump© Getty Images/Win McNamee

Trump Targets Black Voters

In a campaign where swing states could be decided by slim margins, both candidates are seeking to sway key voter blocs. Trump’s efforts to appeal to Black voters included launching his “Black Americans for Trump” coalition in Michigan, supported by prominent Black Republicans like Senator Tim Scott and Representative Byron Donalds. Trump’s strategy involves contrasting his first-term achievements with Biden’s record, including claims that Black workers fared better under his administration.

Trump’s appeal to Black voters also includes highlighting Biden’s role in the 1990s crime bill, which led to high incarceration rates among Black Americans. Despite winning about 10% of the Black vote in 2020, Trump is now polling over 20% among Black voters in battleground states according to a New York Times/Siena College poll. This increased support could be pivotal in swing states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

In response, the Biden campaign has been quick to counter Trump’s narratives, emphasizing his past controversial actions, such as his call for the death penalty for the wrongly convicted Central Park Five and his persistent questioning of Obama’s birthplace. Jasmine Harris, Biden’s director of Black media, highlighted Trump’s history of cozying up to white supremacists and demonizing Black communities. Obama, at a recent fundraiser, criticized Trump’s claims of being beneficial to Black Americans, asserting that Trump only made them appreciate Obama’s presidency more.

Supreme Court's Future in Focus

Biden’s recent remarks at the fundraiser underscored his concerns about the Supreme Court under a potential second Trump term. The president referred to the flags raised by Justice Samuel Alito’s wife, which have been deemed politically provocative, and stressed the risks of Trump appointing more conservative justices. Biden’s critique of the Supreme Court as being “out of kilter” underlines a significant aspect of his campaign, emphasizing the court’s role in issues such as abortion rights.

The Supreme Court’s transformation during Trump’s first term, which saw the overturning of the constitutional right to abortion, has made the court’s composition a critical issue in the 2024 election. Biden’s campaign is now focusing on this issue, seeking to mobilize voters who are concerned about the court’s direction under a Republican administration.

As the campaign progresses, the debate on June 27 will serve as a crucial moment for both candidates to present their visions for the future. Biden and Trump’s contrasting approaches to race, the economy, and the Supreme Court will be pivotal in swaying undecided voters in the swing states that will ultimately determine the election’s outcome.

Joe Biden Donald Trump