Joe Biden, Donald Trump troll each other during State of the Union ahead of 2024 rematch

WASHINGTON – He never mentioned Donald Trump by name.

But President Joe Biden was quick to go after his “predecessor” and “the last administration” Thursday during the State of the Union address, hammering Trump on everything from Russia policy to abortion, taxes and the Jan. 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Biden’s trolling of Trump during an address that lasted more than an hour, and the former president’s snarky rebuttals on his social media platform Truth Social, gave Americans a preview of what they can expect in the coming months as the two rivals gear up for a bitter, divisive rematch.

The split screen served as the opening salvo of the general election after Trump clinched the nomination this week when Nikki Haley dropped out of the race.

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President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington March 7, 2024.

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington March 7, 2024.

Both men were eager to go after each other.

Trump started jabbing Biden hours before he entered the House chamber, where he delivered his speech. Trump complained about Biden being late when the event didn’t start on time and kept up his “Play by Play” throughout much of the speech.

Biden opened his remarks talking about supporting Ukraine’s defense from Russia’s invasion and blasted Trump three minutes into the speech for his recent comments about NATO.

Biden mentioned Trump more than a dozen times in his remarks. Trump posted dozens of times on Truth Social throughout the address.

“My predecessor, a former Republican president, tells Putin quote ‘do whatever the hell you want’… bowing down to a Russian leader,” Biden said. “I think it’s outrageous, it’s dangerous, and it’s unacceptable.”

Trump responded minutes later with a trio of Truth Social posts about Putin and NATO.

“NATO only became strong, because of ME, I got the NATO Nations to pay up,” Trump wrote. “They were almost all delinquent. The United States was paying for them all!”

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Biden also said his “predecessor” was trying to “bury the truth about Jan. 6,” when a mob of Trump supporters tried to stop Congress from certifying the result of the 2020 election in which Biden defeated Trump. That prompted Trump to defend Jan. 6 participants.

“The so-called ‘Insurrectionists’ that he talks about had no guns, they only had a Rigged Election,” Trump wrote, repeating his unfounded claims about the election.

While Trump responded to many of Biden’s policy critiques, he also criticized Biden in more personal terms, talking about his hair, the president sounding “angry” and his “COUGHING – ALWAYS THE COUGHING!”

TOPSHOT - (COMBO) This combination of pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski and JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKIJIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

The State of the Union was being closely watched to see if Biden could answer concerns about his age.

“I know I may not look like it but I’ve been around awhile,” Biden joked at one point, addressing the age issue head on.

Biden tried to project energy throughout, in part by contrasting his approach to the world with Trump’s. At one point he talked about getting tough with Putin, saying his message to the Russian president is simple.

“We will not walk away. We will not bow down. I will not bow down,” Biden said, shouting over applause.

With Biden’s performance widely seen as energetic, Trump and his allies turned to complaining that it was over the top. A Trump spokeswoman posted on X, formerly Twitter, that Biden was “screaming.”

“THIS IS LIKE A SHOUTING MATCH, EVERY LINE IS BEING SHOUTED,”  Trump wrote in all capital letters, the online version of shouting.

Biden’s eagerness to criticize Trump and the former president’s steady stream of responses made for one of the more partisan State of the Union’s in memory.

Both men said the stakes are high this election cycle and that democracy is under attack. Trump declared that Biden is “A THREAT TO DEMOCRACY!”

“January 6th and the lies about the 2020 election, and the plots to steal the election, posed the gravest threat to our democracy since the Civil War,” Biden said.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden, Trump troll each other during State of Union

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