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How Bucks County, Pennsylvania voters reacted to first Biden-Trump presidential debate

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How Bucks County, Pennsylvania voters reacted to first Biden-Trump presidential debate


DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — The sun was shining on Main Street in Doylestown on Friday, but the answers were less than sunny when CBS News Philadelphia asked voters in Bucks County about their thoughts on Thursday night’s presidential debate, the first face-to-face between Presiden Biden and former President Donald Trump in four years.

“I was distraught, I have to admit,” Martin Focazio said.

“Little scary to see the mental state of Biden and maybe how Trump might be a little bit too overzealous,” Kile Kittleson of Doylestown said.

“Pretty much what I was expecting to see,” David Creamer, who was out walking his dog, said, “which was pretty embarrassing.”

The hour-and-a-half debate from Atlanta hosted by CNN was broadcast across major networks Thursday night. It was filled with personal attacks and both candidates strayed off-topic.

Some, following the debate, criticized Mr. Biden’s performance. He lost his train of thought several times or had long, wandering answers. While Biden supporters say the showing did spark some concerns, they aren’t moving off their backing of the president.

“Still, after last night, I’m still voting for Biden,” Focazio said. “I’m voting for an administration, not a person. When I look at the behavior of the administration under Biden, I’m more in favor of those outcomes than I am with what happened under the Trump regime.”

“I believe that he is still capable. He has wonderful people around him,” Margi Tettemer said. “He may not come across as strong and with it, but I believe that he is.”

US President Joe Biden and former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump participate in the first presidential debate of the 2024 elections at CNN’s studios in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 27, 2024.

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images


Biden supporters knocked Trump for what they said were lies during Thursday’s debate.

CBS News Fact Check found Trump made several false claims on topics from the economy to abortion and immigration. Biden was also found to have made at least two false claims about U.S. soldier deaths during his time in office and on Social Security.

But Trump supporters in Doylestown on Friday thought the former president performed much better than his appearances on the debate stage four years ago.

“I think he was definitely more in control than I’ve seen him back in ’16 and ’20,” Stephen Bilan of Doylestown said. “And I think he’s very much aware of that. He can’t polarize and alienate some of the people that he did.”

“I focus on what his policies were when he was president,” Luke Desiato said. “And I have no reason to think he’s going to change the second time around.”

So where does Thursday’s debate leave people who are still in the middle?

Benjamin Samakavitz said he remains undecided. While he said he didn’t watch the debate live Thursday, he saw some of the highlights online later and wasn’t swayed.

“I wish there was some better challengers, somebody that I would love to vote for,” Samakavitz said. “Right now, I don’t want to vote for someone.”

But the undecided Samakavitz isn’t alone in that wish. Many of the voters CBS News Philadelphia talked with Friday, including those saying they support either Biden or Trump, aren’t exactly thrilled with their options.

 

“I wish there were two different candidates,” Bilan, who says he is backing Trump, said. “I wish there would’ve been more, like in other years, where there was a debate on who the candidates were going to be for president.”

“If there were a younger option obviously, then that would be more beneficial for I think everybody,” Kittleson said.

“I just saw something earlier that said America needs to unplug and plug it back in and get a reboot. We’re in a very strange place right now,” said Tettemer, a staunch Biden supporter.

While it remains unlikely, there could still be changes to the 2024 race. There have been reports that after what some viewed as a poor performance, and with the Democratic National Convention still weeks away, Democrats could look to replace Biden at the top of the ticket. It was a notion that split the voters CBS News Philadelphia spoke with.

“My guess is that the Democrats are gonna pull Biden at the last minute here and try to substitute somebody,” Bilan said.

“Technically, it’s possible,” Focazio said. “I don’t know who they would put up there?”

“That’s scary too. With who? Is there enough time?” Tettemer said. “So yeah, we’re at a really insane crossroads.”

Several high-ranking Democrats, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, dismissed calls for Biden to be removed from the ticket.



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