‘Two old guys going at it’: Arizonans not excited for Biden-Trump debate (2024)

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will get their first chance to talk directly to Arizona voters from the debate stage on Thursday.

If anyone tunes in, that is.

Voters in the battleground state are split on whether they will watch the first debate of the 2024 cycle, telling The Arizona Republic that they already know the major party options and find the November election exhausting.

"I really don’t want to watch two old guys going at it," Phoenix resident Alex Brown said. “I'm not gonna watch the debate. I already made up my mind on how I’m voting.”

After months of campaigning, Biden and Trump will go head-to-head for the first time this election cycle at a CNN Presidential Debate later this week. Polls show Trump and Biden separated by single digits in Arizona with roughly four months to go until Election Day. Tens of millions of Americans are expected to tune into the debate, CNN reported.

Even though much has changed since the last time Biden and Trump squared off on the debate stage, the candidates are the same. That has left Arizonans unexcited by the Thursday night program and the presidential campaigns working to drum up interest.

“This is the first time in modern political history that we have had two presidents go head-to-head in a national televised event,” Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller told reporters during a pre-debate press call on Tuesday. The Trump campaign threw a few punches at the Democratic president, suggesting without proof that Biden would take the drug Adderall for the debate.

Louisa Pedraza, 63, who is from Chandler and plans to vote for Biden, said she is more interested in seeing how Trump is going to behave — or if he will even show up.

"I hope people wake up and realize what's at stake with the loss of our rights and our freedoms," Pedraza said.

She said this election has been exhausting as a voter because she thinks the polls and media coverage don't reflect what a lot of Americans are feeling.

"(Trump) spews out so much lies and information and then he goes back and forth on it," Pedraza said.

Biden won Arizona by a razor-thin margin four years ago and the state was integral to his general election victory over Trump. Years later, the former president and his allies still falsely claim that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

Other than policy-focused questions, Trump, 78, and Biden, 81, will likely touch on the hot topic of their ages as the oldest presidential candidates to ever run for office. First Lady Jill Biden squashed concerns about her husband’s age to over 250 Arizona seniors during a visit to Phoenix on Jan. 15.

While Biden’s age isn’t a major concern for a large chunk of older Democrats, the opponents’ senior citizen status is a disconnect for many younger voters.

That’s the case for RJ Danforth, a 19-year-old Scottsdale resident who may watch Thursday’s debate but wishes there were different, younger candidates on stage.

“I'm probably going to have it on in the background. So I'll pay attention but in the corner of my mind,” Danforth said.

He named housing as a top issue he’d like to hear the candidates address on stage.

Danforth plans to cast a presidential ballot for the first time this November, and he’s pretty sure he knows who he will vote for.

“Probably Biden, but we'll see if there's a different person,” Danforth said.

Trump and Biden will be the only two candidates on the debate stage after independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. didn’t meet the requirements to participate.

Despite the disinterest of some voters, political organizers in the state hope the debate will “supercharge” interest in the election ahead of the political conventions.

The Republican National Convention is July 15-18 in Milwaukee and the Democratic National Convention is a month later in Chicago.

“Ninety-plus percent of the American population that is voting doesn’t start really paying attention until the conventions. They are paying attention earlier now. The debate is going to supercharge that because it's going to bring it onto a lot of people's radar screens,” said Jennifer Gee, an Arizona native who lives in San Francisco and travels to the state for political organizing. Gee is a founding member of the grassroots group Women for Biden-Harris.

But to some Arizonans, the key to fixing the political moment lies somewhere beyond the ballot box.

Craig Hyatt, 53, of Phoenix, said he doesn’t plan to watch the debate. He said he’s not anti-government, but his confidence is in God’s Kingdom to fix “this mess.”

‘Two old guys going at it’: Arizonans not excited for Biden-Trump debate (2024)
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