Biden Will Seize 80th D-Day Anniversary With Putin, Trump Rebuke

Biden Will Seize 80th D-Day Anniversary With Putin, Trump Rebuke

President Joe Biden will take on two men he’s identified as present-day threats to democracy — Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump — as he marks one of the US’s greatest triumphs against authoritarianism.

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(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden will take on two men he’s identified as present-day threats to democracy — Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump — as he marks one of the US’s greatest triumphs against authoritarianism.

Biden is in France to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy during World War II, with a series of events designed to serve as symbolic rebukes of leaders the US president has painted as looming dangers.

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Biden — who has warned that Putin has grand designs on Europe — plans to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday, as world leaders gather near the beaches where allied soldiers battling Nazi Germany mounted the largest amphibious assault in history. He’ll look to link the historic backdrop to Ukraine’s current struggle to reverse Russia’s invasion.

Later, Biden is staging two events drawing implicit contrasts with Trump, who is vying to return to the White House.

On Friday, he’ll deliver a speech on democracy and freedom at Pointe du Hoc, echoing the famous election-year address by former President Ronald Reagan four decades earlier. By raising topics like the value of American allies and the need to combat tyrants, Biden can deliver a veiled critique of Trump’s leadership style and penchant for isolationism rather than explicitly campaign on foreign soil.

“You don’t have to be partisan to make your case for a free-world strategy and the alliance with Europe. And the contrast with Trump, you don’t have to put into a partisan context,” said Daniel Fried, a former US diplomat now at the Atlantic Council.

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Then Biden will visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, the subject of a bombshell report about Trump during the last presidential election.

The Atlantic reported that Trump in 2018 canceled a visit to the graveyard – which serves as a final resting place for US troops killed in World War I – because he was concerned about the impact of heavy rain on his hair, and that he belittled Americans who died in the nation’s wars as “suckers” and “losers.” 

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Biden has frequently seized on the reporting to criticize Trump, who blamed logistical problems caused by the weather for the scheduling change and has denied disparaging US troops.

Biden offered a preview of his remarks Monday, tying the struggle against fascism during World War II to the US election. 

“Democracy is literally on the ballot this year,” Biden told donors at a fundraiser in Connecticut. “The future of democracy and freedom is at stake. We have brave soldiers who gave their lives on the beaches of Normandy who did their part.”

But even as Biden has declared his intention to revitalize alliances, his actions outside of Ukraine have strained some of those relationships. Steadfast support for Israel’s war against Hamas has isolated him from European leaders more willing to condemn the military campaign that killed thousands of Palestinian civilians. 

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The White House’s attempts to counter China and boost domestic manufacturing also come at the expense of European auto, technology, and green energy industries, causing friction with Biden’s host, French President Emmanuel Macron.

That’s left US partners struggling to navigate the politics and economics of a post-pandemic world. And with ascendant developing nations more skeptical of the West, the liberal order established after World War II appears at its most vulnerable point in decades.

“Disagreements with allies and partners is not something new to President Biden, any more than unity and cooperation and collaboration, which he also fosters,” White House spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday.

Macron and the Biden administration have been at odds at times over their approach to Putin. French organizers of the D-Day ceremonies initially said Russian officials would be invited to recognize the Soviet Union’s sacrifices fighting the Nazis. But last week, blowback from the US and other participants led the French to reverse course.

Still, the White House is eager to use the president’s trip through France, the longest visit to a single country of his presidency, to evoke the past in hopes of rallying the world — and American voters.

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Leaders including Macron, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are expected to attend Thursday’s ceremonies along with veterans to mark the allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, which paved the way for victory over Nazi Germany.

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The winning alliance helped form the backbone of the post-World War II global order through institutions like NATO, which Trump has repeatedly questioned. Those same organizations have been crucial for backing Kyiv’s war effort. 

Fresh US aid for Ukraine was held up by Republicans in the US Congress for months, which many Europeans took as a warning sign about what might happen if Trump wins. Biden is expected to discuss the issue this week during a state visit with Macron.

“He’ll talk about the dangers of isolationism and how, if we bow to dictators, fail to stand up to them, they keep going and ultimately America and the world pays a greater price,” White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Tuesday.

The expression “politics stops at the water’s edge” was once a guidepost for US presidents traveling overseas, but not in this deeply polarized moment. With polls showing Biden struggling to gain traction — and European capitals rattled by the prospect of a second Trump term — the president is leaning into making the case that he is a bulwark of democracy.

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“The world will be watching. More importantly, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, will be watching,” pollster Frank Luntz said Monday on Bloomberg Television’s Balance of Power.

Biden’s visit is poised to set the tone for how he tackles Trump and Putin ahead of Election Day. He departed Washington less than a week after Trump became the first former president convicted of a felony, injecting fresh turmoil into the election.

Biden began referring to Trump openly as a “convicted felon” Monday, signaling a new aggressiveness toward his opponent. Biden and allies had previously tread lightly, for fear of legitimizing Trump’s claims of political prosecution.

But Biden faces his own challenges, with his son Hunter on trial, accused of lying about drug abuse on a federal firearm document. And the president has not been immune to charges of insensitivity toward the nation’s war dead. He was photographed looking at his watch during a 2021 dignified transfer of troops killed during the evacuation from Afghanistan.

—With assistance from Skylar Woodhouse, Joe Mathieu, Kailey Leinz and Matt Shirley.

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