Biden will seek to contrast with Trump’s ‘suckers and losers’ veterans slur during D-Day visit

The US president touched down in Paris on Wednesday

Kelly Rissman
Wednesday 05 June 2024 21:30 BST
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Joe Biden commemorates 80th anniversary of D-Day in France
Joe Biden commemorates 80th anniversary of D-Day in France (AP)

President Joe Biden arrived in France to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, where he will likely try to remind European allies of his role as a world leader, while distancing himself from his “America First” predecessor, ahead of the November election.

Biden touched down on Wednesday in Paris to pay respect to World War II veterans. But the trip serves as a crucial opportunity for the president, as he stands to gain the support of allies in Europe ahead of the upcoming presidential election – and give them a chance to contrast his leadership with that of former president Donald Trump, who could soon be re-elected.

Perhaps in a preview of what’s to come, in a fundraiser on Monday, the president reminded donors of Trump’s comments that he made in France in 2018, when he canceled a trip to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and infamously referred to soldiers buried there as “losers” and “suckers.”

“‘Losers and suckers!’ Who in the hell does he think he is?” Biden said. “This guy does not deserve to be president, whether or not I’m running.”

On Tuesday, when asked whether Biden would visit the cemetery, John Kirby, the White House national security communications adviser, confirmed he would be visiting the cemetery. Kirby added: “Our commitment to honor that sacrifice should never waver. And our obligations to those they leave behind, even though it may be generations ago, can never be lessened.”

To further this contrast to his predecessor, according to the White House, Biden is expected to deliver a speech later this week focusing on democracy and freedom, both of which, he said during his State of the Union address in March, were “under attack” both at home and overseas.

As president, Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, threatened to “quit” Nato, and touted an “America First” agenda, leaving a wake of frayed relationships the world over.

The president will likely try to emphasize a contrast in his leadership during his trip, which comes just months before the presidential election. Biden “has made revitalizing our relationships a key priority, recognizing of course that we are stronger when we act together and that today’s challenges require global solutions and global responses”, Kirby said.

To underscore his priorities, during his trip to France for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, then-president Trump focused on blasting then-House speaker Nancy Pelosi and special counsel Robert Mueller. His criticisms of those at home came in stark contrast with the backdrop of the French cemetery.

However, Biden will also need to address the elephant in the room: his approach to the ongoing war in Gaza that clashes with the approach of many EU nations.

The brutal crisis has continued since 7 October when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel that killed some 1,200 people and took another 250 people hostage. Israel since has waged attacks on Gaza, killing an estimated 36,000 people, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.

While France is mulling recognizing a Palestinian state – as three European nations have already done – the US, under Biden, has offered some aid to Gaza while also supplying weapons to Israel. Biden also recently rejected the International Criminal Court’s request to issue arrest warrants for Israeli leaders over its war crimes against Hamas.

Addressing the world leaders being at odds, Kirby said on Tuesday: “Disagreements with allies and partners is not something new to President Biden any more than unity and cooperation and collaboration, which he also fosters across a range of issues.”

President Biden last week announced a “roadmap to an enduring ceasefire and the release of all hostages”.

French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed support for Biden’s plan.

“This deal should reopen a credible perspective for the implementation of a two-state solution, the only one able to provide Israel with the necessary security guarantees and to respond to the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians,” said Mr Macron, according to Le Monde.

He also emphasized that Gaza be “an integral part of a future Palestinian state, and a reformed and reinforced Palestinian Authority, with the help of the international community, should ensure its governance”.

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