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Sensitive Content Warning, mention of S.A. and violence against women

Native Vote 2024. The first presidential debate between the presumptive nominees of both major political parties, President Joe Biden (Democrat) and former President Donald Trump (Republican), debated on Thursday night in Atlanta. 

Moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, the 90-minute debate touched on several topics, such as the economy, immigration, abortion, and democracy. Specific Native American issues were never discussed during the debate.

For some viewers, Thursday’s debate was an off-night for the 81-year-old Biden. At the beginning, the president’s voice was noticeably raspy as he gave rambling answers. It was later disclosed that he had a sore throat.

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Soon after the debate, political pundits discussed the possible need for Biden to pull out of the presidential race. Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe called Biden’s performance a “Defcon 1 moment” during an appearance on MSNBC Thursday night.

“And I think that’s a tragedy because I think Trump had so many openings that you could have just scissored him up on tonight,” Plouffe said.

On Friday, the White House reported that Biden had a cold during the debate. His campaign stated that the president would remain in the race.

While Biden’s debate delivery was not the performance his campaign officials hoped for, Trump, 78, on the other hand, was the vintage Trump, who did not answer the questions asked by the moderators. His answers were filled with misinformation and falsehoods. The New York Times fact-checkers cited the former president made falsehoods 26 times, while CNN reported that Trump made 30 false claims. 

Throughout the debate, Trump repeatedly mentioned the safety of women in the United States. He claimed that immigrants are coming into the U.S. in mass waves, threatening the safety of women.

 “These killers are coming into our country and they are raping and killing women,” he said.

CNN fact-checked this claim, citing statistics that show crime in the US dropped significantly in 2023 and in the first quarter of 2024. Murders and other violent offenses dropped significantly during that period, even though the number of people crossing the southern border spiked.

However, in Indian Country, the issue of violence against women and girls is all too real. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) females experienced the second highest rate of homicide in 2020. Additionally, in 2020 homicide was in the top 10 leading causes of death for AI/AN females aged 1-45. More than 2 in 5 AI/AN women were assaulted in their lifetime. 

Not only did Trump falsify information about violence against women instead of referencing the very real issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), but he also made false claims about the state of our environment. 

In response to Bash's question about whether the candidates would do anything to address climate change, Trump responded, “I want absolutely immaculate clean water and absolutely clean air, and we had it. We had H2O, we had the best numbers ever, and we were using all forms of energy, everything.” 

He said his presidency saw “the best environmental numbers ever.”

Indian Country knows this, too, is false. While in office, Trump rolled back more than 200 environmental policies.

The next presidential debate between Biden and Trump will be hosted by ABC News and is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 9 p.m. EDT. By then, both Biden and Trump are expected to become the official nominees of their respective political party conventions. The Republican National Convention will take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from July 15-18 and the Democrats will hold their convention in Chicago on August 19 - 22. 

Trump is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11, 2024, for his conviction of 34 criminal counts in New York.

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About The Author
Neely Bardwell
Author: Neely BardwellEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Neely Bardwell (descendant of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indian) is a staff reporter for Native News Online. Bardwell is also a student at Michigan State University where she is majoring in policy and minoring in Native American studies.