What Arizona voters can expect from Joe Biden and Donald Trump in presidential debate

Jun 27, 2024, 9:08 AM

First 2024 presidential debate to focus on key Arizona issues...

One Valley political expert thinks Biden will succeed, while another worries he might fumble his chance at reelection. (File photos: Getty Images)

(File photos: Getty Images)

PHOENIX — President Joe Biden and Donald Trump will compete to win over voters in Arizona and across the nation during the first 2024 presidential debate at 6 p.m. Thursday.

KTAR News 92.3 FM will stream the CNN Presidential Debate live on air and online. The radio station will have full coverage all day leading up to the debate as well as more analysis afterward.

Tony Cani, who served as the assistant state director in Arizona for the Biden-Harris campaign in 2020, predicts Trump and Biden will focus on key issues that Arizona voters care about.

Key issues Arizona voters can watch for in tonight’s debate

“There’s going to be a lot of talk about reproductive freedom and abortion,” Cani told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday morning. “I think that Arizonans, especially, are very aware of the chaos that Trump’s Supreme Court majority threw on us when Roe v. Wade was overturned.”

He also referenced the Arizona Supreme Court overturning a December 2022 appeals court decision that said doctors couldn’t be prosecuted under the pre-statehood abortion ban in early April. This effectively set back the clock to an 1864 law that carried a sentence of 2-5 years in prison for doctors or anyone else who assists in an abortion.

However, the Arizona Legislature voted to repeal the 1864 law last month and Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs signed House Bill 2677 on May 2.

Another top issue Arizonans care about is the economy, which Cani expects Biden and Trump to trade barbs over.

“I think there’s also going to be a lot of talk about the contrast between their two economic plans,” Cani said. “I think that there has been a big effort by the Trump campaign to paint the economy when he left as being much stronger than it actually was, and I think that we were in a crisis situation that President Biden was able to stabilize.”

Who has more to lose: Donald Trump or Joe Biden?

Longtime Valley political expert and former state lawmaker Stan Barnes of Copper State Consulting Group said this debate could shape the future of the election.

“It’s my opinion that the election is generally decided right here in June,” Barnes told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday. “I think for the most part everyone knows what they’re going to do in November with these two men and their vote.”

He doesn’t think anything is going to disrupt that. It’s all baked in, he added.

“I think Joe Biden has more to lose,” Barnes said. “If Joe Biden, for some reason, is at the podium as president of the United States in the debate for his re-election and cannot come off like he’s got his clear thoughts together, it’s going to seal his fate.”

He also said he expected a cutthroat debate judged on standards that have changed in the age of social media.

“There is a performance metric that is entirely different,” Barnes said. “I think both of them will lean into that.”

All-day coverage on 92.3 FM ahead of first 2024 presidential debate

KTAR News 92.3 FM will host a series of special coverage events ahead of the CNN Presidential Debate.

Starting off coverage is a preview special hosted by Jim Sharpe from noon to 2 p.m. These guests will join him:

  • Mike Noble, founder of Noble Predictive Insights
  • Mary Rabago, journalist and media consultant
  • Chuck Coughlin, HighGround Inc. CEO
  • Steve Goldstein, journalist and podcaster
  • Chuck Todd, journalist

Tune to 92.3 FM to listen or go to to watch a war room from 5 to 6 p.m. hosted by Bruce St. James and Larry Gaydos. Leading up to the event, they’ll discuss key issues with these guests:

  • Matt Salmon, former U.S. rep.
  • Tony Cani, political consultant
  • Emily Ryan, Copper State Consulting political analyst

After Biden and Trump’s debate, KTAR News 92.3 FM legal analyst Barry Markson will host a recap and analysis at 7:37 p.m. Guests include:

  • Mike O’Neil, data analyst
  • Christine Jones, former gubernatorial candidate and GoDaddy executive
  • Stacy Pearson, political strategist and co-founder of Lumen Strategies
  • Garrett Archer, ABC15 data analyst

ABC will host the second 2024 presidential debate on Sept. 10.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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What Arizona voters can expect from Joe Biden and Donald Trump in presidential debate