Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden delivered a broad foreign policy speech Thursday, taking aim at President Donald Trump’s practice of developing friendly relationships with dictators and authoritarian leaders.
Biden likened Trump’s reaction to the August 2017 white-supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia — after which the president argued that anti-racist protestors were also to blame for the violence that occurred — to his apparently deferential approach to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I knew when I saw Donald Trump respond to events in Charlottesville, assigning a moral equivalence between those who promoted hate and those who opposed it, that the threat to democracy was unlike any time, at least in my lifetime,” Biden said during the speech. “Less than a year later, Trump again stood before the press, this time on foreign soil in Helsinki, and repeatedly deferred to Vladimir Putin over U.S. interests, the American intelligence community, and, I would argue, over the American people’s interest,” Biden continued.
Biden then went on to argue that Trump has debased democratic values and acted like a sycophant toward political strongmen.
“When he refuses to condemn Saudi Arabia for the gruesome murder of a journalist, and when he falls in love with a murderous dictator in North Korea. I know it’s not literal, but think what message it sends around the world,” Biden added, focusing on Trump’s relationships with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, respectively.
“He undermines our democratic alliances while embracing dictators who appeal to his vanity. And make no mistake, the world sees Trump for what he is, insincere, ill-informed, and impulsive, and sometimes corrupt, dangerously incompetent, and, in my view, incapable of world leadership and leadership at home,” Biden added.
“As President of the United States, I would remind the world that we are the United States of America and we do not coddle dictators,” Biden noted. “The United States of America gives hate no safe harbor.”
Biden also made the argument that foreign policy and domestic policy are inextricably linked, and that protecting U.S. jobs would include reversing Trump’s trade policies.
During the first half of his term, President Trump went about undoing the major foreign policy achievements of the administration of President Barack Obama, for whom Biden served two terms as vice president. Within the first two years of his time in office, Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords and the Iran nuclear deal, resulting in increased tension and threats of possible armed conflict with the Islamic republic.
Biden also pledged Thursday to reverse Trump’s foreign policy legacy if he makes it to the White House, including a reversal the controversial Muslim travel ban that Trump implemented almost immediately after taking office. Biden also pledged to convene a “global summit for democracies” to repair the relationships with traditional U.S. allies, countries like the United Kingdom and Germany, that have been strained under Trump.
Still, it is unclear if Biden will be the Democratic nominee for President. Political analysts noted that Biden underperformed during recent primary debates compared to his opponents, in particular Senator Kamala Harris, who publicly challenged the career politician for legislative actions during his time in the Senate that opposed federal support of certain school integration programs.
A YouGov poll released Wednesday showed that while Biden still led the vast field of more than two-dozen Democratic candidates, he only enjoyed a 5 percentage point lead over Senator Elizabeth Warren and an 8-point lead over Harris. Both Warren and Harris leap-frogged over Senator Bernie Sanders, who had been comfortably running in second behind Biden.