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First Presidential Debate is tonight

Tonight, Donald J Trump and Joseph R. Biden will hold the first of two scheduled debates.

This is a very unique Presidential election where both candidates have served four years as President of the United States. Both men have been in the public eye for decades.

Trump burst onto the public scene as a businessman, showman, and reality TV host who was frequently openly discussing pursuing the Presidency, before finally entering the 2016 field. Trump served from 2017 to 2021.

Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972. He quickly rose in Democratic ranks to one of the more prominent Senators. He sponsored a number of landmark pieces of legislation including the bipartisan 1996 crime bill. Biden ran for President unsuccessfully twice, until being chosen as Barack H. Obama's running mate in 2008. Biden served 8 years as Obama's vice president. In 2016 party leaders were eager to unite behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's candidacy, who was younger than Biden; and Biden was pressured not to enter the 2016 race. It was a decision that they would regret, as Trump defeated Clinton. There were fears in 2020 that progressives would secure the nomination for socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Biden was seen as the only credible candidate who could beat Sanders in the primary and Trump in the general election.

The 2020 election saw the highest voter turnout in American history. Trump had more votes than anyone in the history of the nation other than Biden. While Biden won the popular vote by millions of votes, the decisive votes were ~35,000 voters in the swing states of Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Nevada. Biden swept those states by the tiniest of margins. Many Republicans, including Trump, still dispute these results.

Both men are extremely old. Biden is 81 and the oldest President in American history – surpassing Ronald W. Reagan who left the President at age 77. Trump is 78. The health and cognitive abilities of both men has been an issue, but particularly for Biden who has appeared confused on stage several times in the past year. Neither man has had to deal with a major economic crisis in their presidencies and both added significantly to the national debt while they were in office.

Trump will hit Biden on inflation, crime, the border, and immigration. Biden will hit Trump on allegations of misconduct and try to make the point that he is better at getting things done. Trump has said that his Vice-Presidential candidate will be at the debate; but has not said who that is. Foreign policy is also likely to be a major issue that is discussed.

The debate will be at 8:00 CDT. CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will be the hosts.

The next debate will be in September after the Democratic National Convention. A Vice-Presidential debate is expected in October between Trump's VP choice and VP Kamala Harris.

The election will be November 5, but many states (not Alabama) will begin early voting 60 days ahead of that,

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