News & Politics

New York politicians react to Biden’s lackluster debate performance

The Empire State will remain at the center of presidential politics with Biden visiting over the next two days.

Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden squared off in the first presidential debate on CNN.

Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden squared off in the first presidential debate on CNN. Kyle Mazza/Anadolu via Getty Images

While President Joe Biden’s poor debate performance is causing Democrats to freak out, Republicans in New York proclaimed a victory for Donald Trump.

Some of the immediate speculation following the debate, including whether Biden had a cold, was that there could still be time for Democrats to replace Biden on the ballot before the Democratic National Convention. Former state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi was among those voices, posting, “President Biden is a good, honorable man. He has much to be proud of. It is time to step aside and call off this run.”

However, Biden’s Democratic surrogates in New York defended their candidate. Gov. Kathy Hochul posted, “Let’s be clear, Donald Trump is the greatest threat to the American people. He is a convicted felon who wants to ban abortion nationwide. Those are the stakes this November.”

And Rep. Grace Meng wrote, “We are Team Democrat & democracy. Trump lies about everything from 1/6 to insulin prices. He’s a threat to our democracy & freedom. He has the ‘morals of an alleycat.’ Tonight’s debate proved that. I support the most honest leader in the room, not the loudest. Now we work harder.” She followed it up by saying, “I choose work over worry.”

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams landed somewhere in the middle of those two camps, posting, “Biden absolutely actually answered questions with real policy. Unfortunately, he said it with tremendous lethargy and, at times, not cohesive.”

New York State Young Republican Chair Peter Giunta was excited in a statement about Trump’s strong debate performance, as was Rep. Elise Stefanik, who said in a statement, “This is the greatest presidential debate win in history. President Donald J. Trump overwhelmingly won tonight’s debate from the economy and the border to foreign policy and the sanctity of life.”

During the debate, New York came up several times, including on Trump’s criminal and civil cases as well as the migrant influx.

The exchange about Trump’s trials in New York began with Biden mentioning Trump’s 34 felony convictions of falsifying business records in a case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “The only person on this stage who’s a convicted felon is the man I’m looking at right now,” he said. 

Trump countered by saying, “I did nothing wrong. We have a system that was rigged and disgusting.”

Biden then referred to the millions in civil penalties that have been levied against Trump, which have recently included $83.3 million in the E. Jean Caroll defamation case and $454 million in a fraud case brought by state Attorney General Letitia James. 

In referring to the Stormy Daniels hush money case, Biden told Trump, “You have the morals of an alley cat.”

Trump responded, “I didn’t have sex with a pornstar, No. 1. No. 2, that was a case that was started, and moved – they moved a high-ranking official, a DOJ (official) into the Manhattan DA’s office to start that case. That case is going to be appealed and won.”

Speaking about the president and the Bragg case, Trump said, “He basically went after his political opponent because he thought it was going to damage me, but when the public found out about these cases … my poll numbers went way up.”

Politifact rated that statement as false in the organization’s fact-check of the debate, saying, “The Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into Trump’s business records began before Biden was president. Biden is not responsible for decisions by state or federal prosecutors to present cases to grand juries.”

Trump, in speaking about migrants who entered the country illegally, said they were going to “destroy our country” before turning his attention to New York.

“Just take a look at where they’re living,” he said. “They’re living in luxury hotels in New York City and in other places. Our veterans are on the street, they’re dying because (Biden) doesn’t care about our veterans.”

Columnist Nicole Gelinas asked, “When is the congestion pricing question?” But unfortunately, the hottest topic in New York politics wasn’t mentioned in the debate.

New York will remain at the top of the presidential news cycle since Biden will be in New York City Friday alongside singer Elton John for an event honoring the 55th anniversary of the riots at the Stonewall Inn before hosting a campaign reception in the evening. He’s also expected to attend fundraisers in the Hamptons over the weekend.

In addition to the criticisms of a lack of on-air fact-checking, others were upset at the state of national politics and the ages of the two candidates, causing terms like “elder abuse” to trend.

Melissa DeRosa, former secretary to then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, wrote during the debate, “This is a slow motion car crash.”

Perhaps despite all the proclamations of victory in statements, there were no winners of tonight’s debate, as Rep. Ritchie Torres put it: “The greatest loser of tonight’s debate is the country.”