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Biden Braces for Crucial Test Tonight at NATO News Summit

Biden in the Spotlight: Can He Overcome Doubts After His Last Disastrous Debate?


President Biden is gearing up for a pivotal moment in his re-election crusade on Thursday evening, where he will engage directly with journalists in a candid press conference at the conclusion of a three-day NATO summit. This test will be scruitinized by friends, skeptics, and foes alike as they observe for signs of incoherence, verbal slips, or a vacant gaze similar to the one noticed by millions during his debate with former President Donald Trump on June 27. The outcome of this performance could either silence doubters or encourage further calls for Biden to rescind his candidacy.

The White House informed on Thursday morning that President Biden’s news conference had been pushed back by an hour, rescheduled to 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. One national security official attributed the delay to an overwhelming schedule at the NATO conference. As to how long Biden stays at the podium and the quantity of queries he’s willing to take on from the media is another barometer by which his performance will be measured. A premature withdrawal amid lingering queries from journalists could raise concerns about his endurance and capability to manage rigorous cross-examinations.

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President Biden’s willingness to host this event indicates the mounting pressure he’s under to dispel the notions that his unsteady performance at the debate was a unique occurrence. As of now, President Biden has conducted fewer standalone press conferences than any former president since Ronald Reagan, with the last one taking place eight months ago.

Recently, Biden has been making an effort to reassure shaken allies of his intent to participate in more freewheeling appearances and interviews. Apart from an interview with ABC held last Friday, he has been relatively inactive over the past critical two weeks since the debate. The White House remains tight-lipped about the preparations being undertaken for Biden’s upcoming press conference, which is expected to follow a day filled with exhaustive meetings and will be telecast live on all the major networks.

An internal White House planning document reveals potential questions that may touch on controversial topics such as Biden’s age, mental agility, demands from legislators that he abdicate, his rationale for remaining in the race, as well as summit-related foreign policy issues. This document was accessed by two individuals familiar with its contents who wished to stay anonymous.

During his last solo news conference, following a meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping in California, he addressed approximately twelve questions and the event spanned nearly 20 minutes. The aftermath of the debate has seen Biden attempting to put behind what he describes as a ‘bad night’, vehemently dismissing demands for a new nominee from what he refers to as Washington’s ‘elite’.

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In an unplanned interaction with reporters at the White House in February, he attempted to counter claims from a special counsel’s report regarding his failing memory. However, Biden ended up confusing the presidents of Mexico and Egypt, a blunder that was replayed numerous times on various cable news outlets.

Come Thursday, Biden will be facing a press corps growing increasingly resentful due to an apparent lack of transparency from the White House. The press briefing on Monday was chaotic as White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre consistently avoided questions about Biden’s health, and puzzled members of the media about the frequent visits of a Parkinson’s doctor to the White House.

A heated interaction between Jean-Pierre and CBS reporter Ed O’Keefe had echoes of the confrontational face-offs that were a hallmark of the Trump administration, where journalists like CNN’s Jim Acosta would frequently spar with the press secretary. On Thursday, the press corps will likely probe into the constant trickle of Democratic lawmakers and donors who have publicly expressed doubts about Biden’s ability to defeat former President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, Representative Elissa Slotkin, the front-runner Democratic contender for an open Senate seat in Michigan, stated that Biden was falling behind Trump in her swing state. In a fundraising event, she revealed that private polls showed Trump leading and the Senate race being evenly contested. ‘At this point, President Biden falls short of Trump in all our surveys and the Senate race is neck and neck,’ she informed donors during a video call.

In a Monday morning interview on MSNBC, Biden stated, ‘I don’t need to explain any more about what I should or shouldn’t do. I am running. I am running.’ However, some of his staunchest supporters seem to be disregarding this statement. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi implied on Wednesday that he could still reconsider his decision, adding that ‘we’re all encouraging him to make that decision. Because time is running short.’

High-profile Biden donor and actor George Clooney penned a scathing op-ed on Wednesday in The New York Times, pressuring Biden to step down. ‘Today, this president stands no chance of victory come November,’ the actor wrote. ‘Every senator, Congress member, and governor I’ve spoken with privately holds the same view, regardless of their public statements.’

In another development, Biden has lined up an interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt on Monday. This interview, which will be taped in Texas and aired on prime time the same evening, is expected to last at least 15 minutes.

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