Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Biden passes first Nato fitness test but Democrats are still doubtful – Times of India

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WASHINGTON: With more focus on clarity of thought, delivery, and body language than substance of his speech, US President Joe Biden on Tuesday pledged Nato support to Ukraine till Russia is defeated.

The assertive performance on the global stage did little to staunch pressure from Democrats who want him to stand down from the 2024 Presidential elections, with former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is herself 84 and a long-time Biden ally, becoming the most prominent party grandee to express doubts about the 81-year old President’s viability for a second term.

“It’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run. We’re all encouraging him to to make that decision. Because time is running short,” Pelosi said in a TV interview on Tuesday, even though Biden has insisted he will now bow out.

Pressed on whether she wanted him to seek re-election, Pelosi, in what fell well short of a full-throated endorsement, told MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “I want him to do whatever he decides to do. And that’s the way it is. Whatever he decides, we go with.”

Elsewhere, Democratic Senator Michael Bennett expressed fears that Trump could win a landslide in November as things stand. Even George Stephanopoulus, the ABC News anchor and former Democratic operative whose platform Biden went on to assert he will stay in the race, was caught on candid camera on a New York street, saying “I don’t think he can serve four more years.”

Amid continued turmoil in the party, Biden displayed energy and vigor in an address to NATO leaders in which he pledged more military support for Ukraine and a further strengthening of the western alliance.

“When this senseless war began, Ukraine was a free country. Today, it is still a free country, and the war will end with Ukraine remaining a free and independent country. Russia will not prevail. Ukraine will prevail,” Biden said in a forceful speech that drew repeated applause from the assembled NATO leaders.

Many of them fear that a Biden defeat and a return of Trump to the White House will torpedo NATO because the former President does not think highly of the alliance and is pally with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, a course that will throw Ukraine and other frontline European nations under the Moscow bus.

While Biden’s speech — read from a teleprompter — was assertive and largely error-free, the jury is still out on whether he has the energy to lead America for another four years. He will be put to another public test at an unscripted, open-ended White House press conference on Thursday evening.

Pelosi herself said she wanted to delay the conversations about Biden’s future till after the NATO summit. “Let’s just hold off. Whatever you’re thinking, either tell somebody privately, but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see how we go this week,” she said in what appeared to be advice to Democrats.

Amid all this, vice-president Kamala Harris has continued to back Biden’s renomination even as she builds her own profile, inviting a New York Times story with a headline that read, “For Kamala Harris, the Challenge of Getting Ready Without Getting Ready.”

With Biden holding centerstage in Washington DC, Harris is on the road in Texas and Nevada, garnering positive headlines, including calling on the US national basketball team training in Las Vegas and urging them to go for a fifth consecutive gold medal in men’s basketball at the Paris Olympics.

Her growing profile and talk of her replacing Biden as the party nominee has triggered trademark Trump attacks.

“The radical left Democrat Party is divided in chaos and having a full-scale breakdown. All because they can’t decide which of their candidates is more unfit to be president: Sleepy, Crooked Joe Biden or Laughing Kamala,” Trump told supporters at a rally on Tuesday, calling her Biden’s “insurance policy,” because, “If Joe had picked someone even halfway competent they would have bounced him from office years ago.”

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