WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Looking to steady his presidential campaign after a debate performance against other Democratic contenders that hurt him in public opinion polls, Joe Biden will seek to play to his strengths on Thursday with a speech that draws upon his experience in foreign affairs.
FILE PHOTO: Former Vice President Joe Biden who is mulling a 2020 presidential candidacy, speaks at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ (IBEW) construction and maintenance conference in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
Biden is expected to lay out a foreign policy vision that will offer a marked contrast to President Donald Trump’s ahead of the November 2020 election, his campaign said.
The Democratic front-runner will shine “a light on the damage we believe President Trump has done to our standing in the world,” a senior Biden campaign official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Republican Trump has unsettled Washington’s allies by withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord, a nuclear deal with Iran, a Trans-Pacific trade agreement, and also threatened to leave the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The speech by Biden, who served two four-year terms as former President Barack Obama’s vice president and chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a U.S. senator, will also offer him a chance to change the subject after getting beaten up for weeks over his long-ago civil rights record.
Kamala Harris, a black U.S. senator from California, assailed the 76-year-old Biden in last month’s debate over his past opposition to forced busing as a means to integrate schools and for remarks about his willingness to work with segregationists while in the Senate more than 40 years ago.
Biden apologized here for those remarks, but he has seen some erosion in support from Democratic voters, with Harris largely reaping the benefit and the field tightening in general among those vying to win the party’s nomination to run against Trump.
In his address at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, Biden is expected to criticize Trump for abdicating the United States’ leadership role in the world and argue that collective action is necessary to confront threats posed by climate change, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and cyberwarfare.
“The president’s ‘America First’ policy has actually turned into America alone,’” the campaign official said.
The speech will be more thematic than specific, the official said, although Biden is expected to touch upon the challenges to the United States posed by China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, among other nations.
Biden has criticized Trump for walking away from the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran and for not extracting firmer commitments from North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.
Trump has not held back from criticism of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. Trump has contended, among other things, that the Iran deal was too lenient and that Obama and Biden did not do enough to contain China’s economic aggression.
At a campaign rally in Pennsylvania in May, Trump defended his “America First” policies, telling his supporters that Biden “said that he’s running to quote ‘save the world’ … Well, he wants to save every country but ours.”
Reporting by James Oliphant in Washington; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Grant McCool