Trump claims ‘big victory’ over Biden despite lying in debate

Donald Trump wasted no time bringing up Thursday’s debate at a rally Friday.

“Hello, Virginia,” he opened to a crowd in Chesapeake, Virginia. “Did anybody last night watch a thing called the debate?”

The former president scored a “big victory” over Joe Biden in a debate that, from its outset, showed the Democratic president mumbling and failing to make coherent points. Biden spent a week at Camp David preparing to debate and got the rules, date and moderators he wanted, Trump said, but it didn’t seem to help his skills.

“He studied so hard that he didn’t know what the hell he was doing,” Trump said. “No amount of rest or rigging could help him defend his atrocious record.”

Trump, for his part, lied profusely during the debate, skirting questions about his role in the January 6 insurrection and political violence. But he clearly outperformed Biden on the optics, landing insults and pivoting to talk solely about what he wanted to with light moderation by CNN.

Biden’s performance led Democrats to contemplate publicly whether he could be replaced as the Democratic candidate at such a late date. Some Biden defenders – and Biden himself – have since sought to reassure that the debate was just one bad performance and not indicative of his ability to lead, or representative of his policy record for the past three years.

While Democrats scrambled, Republicans basked in the Biden flop but worried whether or how a different Democrat could take his place. Trump’s campaign ran an advertisement along those lines, showing Biden tripping up stairs and struggling to put on a jacket.

“Will he make it four years?” the ad pondered. “And you know who’s coming behind him. Vote Joe Biden today, get Kamala Harris tomorrow.”

Trump posted clips of his golf game, and Biden’s, on Truth Social, a retort to Biden’s claims that he had a low golf handicap. And he shared some clips from the debate, both ones where he made his key points and others where Biden stumbled. “WOW–WHAT IS HE SAYING?!” Trump wrote of Biden’s biggest gaffe, where he inexplicably said: “We finally beat Medicare.”

Biden’s performance, some said, was a sign of his advanced age and how it was affecting his mental acuity. But Trump said age wasn’t the deciding factor here – perhaps because Trump is also old, at 78, just three years behind Biden.

And at the Virginia rally, he sought to attack Biden’s policies and how he’s making the country a “banana republic” rather than his age. He said the president’s biggest problem wasn’t his “personal decline”, but what his administration has done while in office, citing immigration and climate crisi policies.

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“He’s got no problem other than his competence,” Trump told the crowd, saying he knows people much older doing much better than Biden.

Despite speculation that other prominent Democrats – like Harris or California governor Gavin Newsom – could be installed on the ticket instead of Biden, Trump said he didn’t really believe that would happen. Biden does better in the polls than these other Democrats, he claimed. “I have no idea what’s going to happen,” he said.

The debate was a “big moment for people with common sense”, Trump claimed.

He said people shouldn’t wonder whether Biden can make it through a 90-minute debate, but “whether America can survive four more years of crooked Joe Biden in the White House. In fact, I don’t know if we really can survive five more months.”

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