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US Election: Biden, Trump to square off in critical presidential debate

Joe Biden and Donald Trump square off Thursday in a crucial US presidential debate that carries enormous stakes for both candidates as they battle for the approval of undecided voters and any slim advantage in their neck-and-neck race for the White House.

Millions of Americans will tune in to the highly anticipated clash that fires the starting gun on what promises to be a bruising summer of campaigning in a deeply polarized and tense United States still scarred by the chaos and violence that accompanied the 2020 election.

With only two debates this election cycle and national polls showing the pair locked in the tightest of contests, Thursday’s event at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia takes on heightened significance.

For many voters, the choice between President Biden, the oldest ever incumbent, and Trump, now a convicted felon, is an uninspiring one a dynamic both candidates need to counter as they go head to head.

For Trump, an instinctive political pugilist, the challenge will be to rein in the aggressive tendencies he unleashed, to his detriment, in their first chaotic debate four years ago.

The 81-year-old president will be desperate to avoid any major gaffes that could underline concerns about his age, and to focus on his key campaign message that Trump poses an existential threat to US democracy.

There will be no studio audience, depriving candidates of the momentum that comes from ginning up supporters, and microphones will cut out when a candidate’s speaking time is over

To coincide with the debate, the Biden campaign blitzed a series of fresh attack ads that labelled Trump a convicted criminal “looking out for himself,” while Trump’s team countered with TV spots accusing the Democrat of mismanaging the economy and encouraging illegal immigration.

More Americans expect a Trump debate win than a Biden victory 40 per cent to 30 per cent but just one in 10 thought it even somewhat likely the debate would change their vote.

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