As President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump descend on Atlanta for a highly anticipated debate, the political atmosphere is electric. Adding to the mix, independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will be participating in his own way. While he doesn’t meet CNN’s official debate requirements, Kennedy will provide real-time answers to debate questions via a live stream on X, the social media platform owned by Elon Musk. Dubbed the “real debate,” the alternative broadcast aims to present Kennedy’s point of view directly to the public.

In a surprising turn of events, Melania Trump’s whereabouts remain unknown hours before the debate is set to begin. Taking advantage of the mystery, President Biden has taken to social media to mock Trump, adding fuel to the already heated political climate. Trump has teased that his running mate, who remains a secret, will join him at the debate. However, that revelation has not materialized into a clear indication of who the running mate might be. Trump arrived in Atlanta on Thursday night, accompanied by a diverse group of people, none of whom appear to be in consideration for vice president. It remains unclear whether any potential running mate will show up at the debate venue, although many are expected to attend a nearby fundraiser and VIP watch party.

The backdrop for the debate is the city of Atlanta, a major economic hub that reflects the fragile but steady post-pandemic recovery of the broader U.S. economy. The city’s economic landscape has become a testing ground for competing economic visions: Bidenomics versus MAGAnomics. With Bidenomics, policies have focused on infrastructure investments, job creation and social safety nets, with the aim of promoting a robust and inclusive recovery. In contrast, MAGAnomics emphasizes deregulation, tax cuts, and a focus on traditional industries, seeking to stimulate economic growth through market-driven mechanisms.

Atlanta’s recovery has been emblematic of the nation’s economic trajectory, characterized by cautious optimism and gradual improvements. The city’s businesses, from tech startups to manufacturers, reflect broader trends of innovation and resilience in the face of economic challenges. As the debate unfolds, these economic themes are likely to be front and center, providing a stark contrast in the candidates’ visions for America’s future.

The debate is expected to cover a range of critical topics, including the economy, health care, climate change and foreign policy. Biden is likely to defend his administration’s achievements and outline his plans for continued recovery and progress. Trump, on the other hand, is expected to criticize Biden’s policies and lay out his vision for a return to what he sees as the successes of his previous term. Meanwhile, Kennedy’s livestream offers an alternative perspective, challenging traditional narratives and presenting his own unique policy proposals.

The night promises to be a pivotal moment in the 2024 presidential race, with each candidate aiming to sway swing voters and solidify their base. While Atlanta takes center stage, the city’s economic and social dynamics will serve as a microcosm of the national debate, highlighting the real-world implications of the candidates’ policies.