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Biden’s week of reckoning at NATO summit

Via Anthony Zurcher, Senior North America Correspondent

White House questioned by reporters about Biden’s health

This is Joe Biden’s week of reckoning.

Twelve days after a stalemate that could be considered one of the most damaging debates in modern American history, the president is fighting for his political survival under intense scrutiny at home and around the globe.

This week’s NATO summit in Washington DC could be his way of getting a reprieve — or his last fight.

Over the past few days, Mr. Biden has lashed out at his critics, claiming to have the power of Democratic primary voters and daring opponents to come forward and try to unseat him.

He has repeatedly promised that he will carry out his campaign and the time for speculation and worry is over. The action will begin at the NATO summit.

Mr Biden will host three days of meetings and public events with coalition leaders, culminating with a private news conference on Thursday afternoon.

It is a stage on which Mr Biden, a foreign affairs expert, should feel comfortable. But it also raises the already high stakes of his presidency, as a poor performance could have consequences both domestically and internationally.

A mistake could set off a political race among Democrats, dashing his hopes of making it to the November general election, let alone winning.

This could also increase concerns from European allies about the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency and the major foreign policy changes that would come with it.

“Biden is entering this week on a weak note,” said Kristine Berzina, managing director of the German Marshall Fund Geostrategy North.

“We don’t know how he’s going to get out.”

Foreign leaders are interested

It is understood that many European leaders are concerned about Trump and his foreign policy strategy. The former president has disdained multilateral international alliances.

But in the past two weeks, Ms. Berzina said, these leaders have experienced something new — anxiety about Biden.

After his hesitant debate performance, America’s allies began to doubt whether the president was up to the task, she said.

Going into the NATO summit, they hope to see some evidence that his performance that night was an anomaly and does not reflect the new normal.

Getty Images G7 leaders look up at the skybeautiful pictures

This will be a reunion of some leaders following last month’s G7 summit in Italy.

“It’s troubling when a close ally, your most significant ally, falters,” said Ms. Berzina.

“So I think there is great hope that Biden will pass the test. But if he fails, that will raise even more questions about the credibility of the United States.”

All eyes will be on the US president as he attends summits, hosts foreign leaders at the White House and holds bilateral meetings with key leaders, including newly elected British Prime Minister Keir Starmer.

Even behind closed doors at NATO meetings, information about Mr Biden’s record – good or bad – is sure to leak.

A Democratic Panic Attack

This week, Mr. Biden faces an even more difficult task at home.

The president has pointed to strengthening and expanding NATO in the face of Russian aggression as one of his key achievements.

That is where his leadership differs from Trump’s — and any Democrat’s — and the summit will be his chance to demonstrate it to the American public.

“Who can keep Nato together like me?” the president said in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Friday. He added that the Nato summit would be a good way to assess his capabilities.

“Come and listen,” he said. “See what they have to say.”

But simply clearing low expectations at the NATO summit and Thursday’s press conference may not be enough for many politicians, pundits and party activists who are calling for him to step down.

“Just having a few good looks won’t stop the questions,” said Bill Scher, a liberal commentator and editor of the Washington Monthly who recently wrote an article calling on Mr. Biden to make way for Vice President Kamala Harris.

“Time is really of the essence to put all the speculation to rest in the first place, and they wasted a week. There is no clear path out of this situation.”

Mr Scher, a longtime Biden supporter, said the president’s pushback through media interviews, letters and calls to Democratic politicians came after public opinion against him had grown stronger.

And once that sentiment is fully solidified in the polls — which could take weeks — it will probably be too late to replace him completely.

“I understand that it’s hard when you’re nearing the end of your life and you’re not functioning as well as you used to,” Scher said. “Having to admit that publicly must be incredibly painful.”

But the data shows that Mr Biden is losing support and facing defeat in November is becoming increasingly clear.

Polls show that nearly three-quarters of Americans — and even a majority of Democrats — think the president should resign. Half a dozen Democratic members of Congress have called on him to abandon his bid, and many others have offered only vague support.

Democratic voters speak out on Biden’s candidacy

Still, the president continues to say he will continue his campaign and that he has the convention delegates to ensure that he is the Democratic nominee. The decision is firmly in his hands, and if he can get through this week without making any major missteps, he could, in fact, survive the storm for good.

This week’s story, however, has been one of not celebrating Nato’s 75th anniversary but focusing on the challenges ahead.

Instead, it is a story that could determine whether Mr Biden can continue to fight politically in the future.



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