Elections 2024: Biden-Trump debate makes tough choice even tougher for voters

WASHINGTON (AP) – That sound you might have heard After the presidential debate It was a tough situation for voters last week.

Big and Pumped-up universe Among Donald Trump's supporters, the debate suddenly made clear the concern of many Americans, including a portion of President Joe Biden's supporters, that neither man is fit to lead the country.

The first debate of the general election campaign had voters choosing between two extremely unpopular candidates. Then they watched Trump give a speech. stream of lies While Trump delivered with sharpness, passion and conviction, Biden struggled to grasp debate points and even speak many sentences. It further fuelled doubts about the 81-year-old Democratic president's ability to remain in office for four more years.

Now, the options for many Democrats, undecided voters, and anti-Trump Republicans are even more disheartening. Many people were very confused after watching the debate.

Outside a Whole Foods in downtown Denver on Friday, registered Democrat Matthew Tollner tilted his head to the side and kept his mouth open, imitating his preferred candidate Biden, who was seen doing so several times on a split screen during Trump’s speech Thursday night.

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“I’m going to vote for Biden,” Tollner, 49, said as he leaned on the wooden siding of a grocery store. “Actually, I probably won’t.”

A few minutes later, Tollner looked out at the street and thought again. “I’m going to vote for Biden, I think it would be stupid not to. But I don’t like that I have to.”

His appeal to Biden and the Democrats: “Please step aside, bring someone elected forward.”

Sitting on a Detroit park bench, Arabiya Shimon felt politically homeless after voting Democratic in the past two presidential elections. “It feels like no matter what we do, we’re going to be ruined,” she said.

Trump completely transformed his arguments by his disregard for facts, though he was rarely challenged on specific issues during the debate. For example, on abortion, which has been one of America's most divisive issues for generations, the former Republican president claimed there was universal agreement that states should decide on its legality. There is fierce debate about this.

But does it matter? The public response in dozens of interviews across the country was reminiscent of Bill Clinton's post-presidency assessment of what voters want in these difficult times: “When people feel uncertain, they prefer someone strong and wrong to someone weak and right.”


Jocardo Ralston, 47, of Pennsylvania, reacts as he looks at a television to watch the presidential debate between President Joe Biden and Republican presidential nominee former President Donald Trump at Tilly's Lounge in Cincinnati, Thursday, June 27, 2024. “Biden has my vote because Trump has nothing to say at this point,” Ralston said. There is a sense of disappointment for many voters in the U.S. after last week's presidential debate. (AP Photo/Carolyn Castor)

The debate upset Simeone as much as it upset Tollener.

The 27-year-old Detroit start-up owner decided on debate night between Biden and an independent candidate, the most prominent of whom is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Now she's leaning against Biden.

“I think it just reinforces my feeling that this election is going to be very, very intense and it's no longer a matter of the lesser of two evils for me,” he said while sitting on a park bench during a break from work. “It looks like neither of these candidates are viable options.”

Simeon said that as a black and gay man, “it's really frustrating to know that no matter how far we move forward as a country, when it comes to president we still have to do a factory reset and choose between two white men.”

Democratic lawmakers in Washington and party officials across the United States rallied behind Biden, even though many of them were nervous about his debate performance. But their comments were measured, seeming to leave a path open for Biden. Extraordinary decisions For the Democrats to find another candidate.

“It's President Biden's decision what he wants to do with his life,” said Sharif Street, the chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and a state senator. “So far, he's decided he's our candidate, and I'm with him.”

Of course, many Biden supporters saw nothing to distract them, but continued to think they had lost everything.

Jocardo Ralston of Philadelphia called Biden's turn on stage “worrisome.” Still, Ralston said, “I'm not confused, nor do I feel like I'm choosing the lesser of two evils. … Biden is not the ideal choice for many people, but he's the only choice for me, without regrets or hesitation.”


President Joe Biden, right, and Republican presidential nominee former President Donald Trump, left, are seen on a television at Tilly's Lounge during the presidential debate in Cincinnati, Thursday, June 27, 2024. For many voters in the U.S., there is disappointment in the air after last week's presidential debate. (AP Photo/Carolyn Castor)

The third-year doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, whose work focuses on the experiences of gay black and Latino boys in special education classrooms, witnessed the debate at a Cincinnati bar while visiting the city. “Everything that I work for and fight for is in direct opposition to Trump, his values ​​and his policies,” he said.

Biden was more fired up at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Friday, where he acknowledged he was no longer the debater he once was. “I know how to do the job,” he said. “I know how to get the job done.” He attacked Trump in ways he hadn't understood the night before.

“I thought, ‘Well Joe, why didn’t you say that last night?’” said Maureen Dougher, 73, who found Biden’s rally remarks “strong,” “certain” and “very clear.” In the debate, watched by an estimated 51.3 million people, according to preliminary estimates from the Nielsen company, Biden’s performance “wasn’t as good as it is today.”

Amina Barhoomi, 44, of Orland Park, Illinois, is with the Muslim Civic Coalition and is assessing Biden and Trump on the basis that she hopes both will work for the interests of American Muslims. She is also disappointed by the choice of candidates. She is hearing “essentially the same rhetoric” from both.

“The options we have at the top of the ticket are not very good,” he said. “Yesterday confirmed exactly that.”

“I thought it was very difficult to watch, to be honest,” he said of the debate. “I had teenagers with me, and I thought it was just a bunch of debates and a lot of nonsense abuse. And I think the American public expects more than that.”


Associated Press journalists Jesse Bedeian (in Denver), Mike Householder (in Detroit), Carolyn Castor (in Cincinnati), Melissa Perez Winder (in Bridgeview, Illinois) and Makia Seminera (in Raleigh, North Carolina) contributed to this report.

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