Joe Biden gave a stumbling performance in a 90-minute showdown with Donald Trump - the first televised debate of the 2024 presidential election campaign. Democrats expressed grave concern at the president's performance - with one top Democrat saying on CNN: “We should pray for our president.”

The Democrat added that the party had been lied to about Biden’s ability to lead it into the next election. Republican strategist Rina Shah told CNN that for Biden, the debate was like “bringing a knife to a gunfight.”

A CNN flash poll of voters immediately after the debate showed that two-thirds thought that Trump has won (33% vs 67%). Before the debate, CNN polling showed that 45% of voters thought that Biden would win and and 55% expected Trump would come out victorious.


While CNN fact checking later showed that Trump had lied or twisted the facts on almost every answer - 30 in all - a real head-scratcher was when Biden claimed he hadn’t lost any service members during his time in office - overlooking the fact that 13 U.S. servicemen died in Afghanistan. Trump falsely claimed that there were no terror attacks on his watch and that the U.S. provides more aid to Ukraine than Europe.

As reported by CNN: “Biden’s chief debate coach, Ron Klain, famously argues that “while you can lose a debate at any time, you can only win it in the first 30 minutes.” By that standard, the president’s showing was devastating. The tone of the evening was set well before the half hour…If the debate was the president’s best chance to turn around a tight race with Trump, which has him in deep peril of losing reelection, it was a failure. Biden ended the night with the Democratic Party in crisis with serious conversations taking place behind the scenes among senior figures over whether his candidacy is now sustainable, two months before the Democratic National Convention.”


Wrote New York magazine: “Donald Trump spewed un-fact-checked nonsense, and Joe Biden, who coughed his way through rambling answers and told off his opponent for having the ‘morals of an alleycat.’”

The New York Times wrote: “His (Trump’s) bombast, often free of facts and context, was a stark contrast to Mr. Biden’s often rambling and unsteady responses. Mr. Trump was better at packaging sound bites into the time allotted.”

On foreign affairs, the two tangled over Afghanistan, Iran, China and, most notably the wars in Ukraine and Gaza. Trump made the highly doubtful claims he’ll not only end the Ukraine war before he retakes office but that he’d also have WSJ’s Evan Gershkovich, falsely accused by Russia of espionage, freed. Shooting back, Biden called Vladimir Putin a "war criminal" who wants to re-establish part of the "old Soviet empire.” Biden said: “Do you think he wants to stop there [Ukraine]?....what do you think happens to Poland, to Belarus, to those Nato countries?"

Trump accused Biden repeatedly of potentially leading America into World War III, and claimed that Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and Hamas militants’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel would never have happened if he were still president, while Biden accused Trump of fumbling numerous global policies and abandoning America’s allies, Politico reported.


Politico reported that allies “winced” at Biden’s performance: “International officials and diplomats were ready for Trump to spout falsehoods. But Biden, they’d hoped, would present as stronger and more vigorous. By the end of the debate some were questioning whether either was fit to lead. ‘Internationally this isn’t a great look for America, at the risk of stating the obvious,” a European diplomat texted.‘“

My analysis: On Trump’s claim that he’ll be able to end the war in Ukraine prior to inauguration day: it surely won’t end in Ukraine’s favour if Trump makes a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war. He’d likely stop US aid to Ukraine - during the debate he suggested billions are being given and accounted for, even calling President Zelensky “the greatest salesman ever” - and that would severely weaken Ukraine and also serve to empower dictators globally. If President Putin had tuned into the debate, the message he probably took away was that all he needs to do to win the war is to escalate things until Trump takes office.


The United States is developing a plan to supply Ukraine with up to eight Patriot air defense batteries currently used by Israel and scheduled for decommissioning, the Financial Times reported. The potential deal - which the FT said would mark a shift in Israel’s relations with Moscow - would involve first sending the Patriot systems from Israel to the United States, and then subsequently to Ukraine. In April 2024, Israel announced that it plans to decommission eight Patriot batteries and replace them with more advanced air defense systems. Sources noted that Kyiv has also been holding direct negotiations with Israel for the transfer of these systems. According to journalists, the Israeli M901 PAC-2 batteries are older than many of the Patriot systems currently in Ukraine. However, military analysts say that the older models are still fully compatible with the newer ones.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz is demanding that the EU disperse more funds to countries like Germany that host a high amount of Ukrainian refugees. Scholz said that he had written a joint letter with his Polish and Czech counterparts, Donald Tusk and Petr Fiala, to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, detailing that demand. These three countries had taken up the highest share of Ukrainian refugees, “which is why, together with my colleagues, I believe that it is now time to make a decision … that Europe provides these countries with special financial support to finance social care [for the refugees], vocational training, language courses and all the other things that play a role.” The discussion around Ukrainian refugees in Germany has intensified in recent months, with some politicians from the center-right opposition but also Scholz’s liberal coalition partner FDP arguing that Berlin should cut social care to Ukrainians who still haven’t found a job in Germany. - Politico


May was a particularly deadly month for the Russian army in Ukraine, with an average of more than 1,000 of its soldiers injured or killed each day, according to U.S., British and other Western intelligence agencies. But despite its losses, Russia is recruiting 25,000 to 30,000 new soldiers a month — roughly as many as are exiting the battlefield, U.S. officials said. That has allowed its army to keep sending wave after wave of troops at Ukrainian defenses, hoping to overwhelm them and break through the trench lines. It is a style of warfare that Russian soldiers have likened to being put into a meat grinder, with commanding officers seemingly oblivious to the fact that they are sending infantry soldiers to die. At times, this approach has proved effective, bringing the Russian army victories in Avdiivka and Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. But Ukrainian and Western officials say the tactics were less successful this spring, as Russia tried to take land near the city of Kharkiv. - NYT


The Bolivian government was aware of potential coup plans and had intelligence before the nation's chief military officer and his forces stormed the presidential palace, a high-ranking minister revealed on Thursday. The failed coup on Wednesday happened over a few hours and provoked swift condemnations from world leaders, raising fears that democracy in the Andean nation remains at risk. In an interview with local broadcaster Unitel, Interior Minister Eduardo del Castillo said that President Luis Arce had received reports about "destabilization attempts." However, he cautioned that the government did not know more at the time. The mobilization of military units on Wednesday saw the country's military commander gather troops in the main square of the capital La Paz, ramming a palace door with an armored vehicle to allow soldiers to rush into the building. - Reuters

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