Biden celebrates election validation amid high-stakes meeting with Xi

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Thirty-seven minutes after wrapping up a late-night gala dinner with Asian leaders — with dishes of wild Mekong lobster and beef saraman — an aide handed President Joe Biden the phone.

On the other side of the line was David Trone the millionaire Maryland wine retailer who was thousands of miles away and a 12-hour time zone away and had just won another House term.

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The call wasn’t a long one, said a person familiar with it, but it reflected the warmth and enthusiasm that Biden had used dozens of times in calls to winning candidates in the past week — each one further solidifying a midterm election that he dramatically reshaped. the prevailing view of his presidency.

“There was nobody who wasn’t running for what we did,” Biden told reporters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, shortly after Democrats won two more years of control of the Senate — and another round of congratulations. “So I feel good and I’m looking forward to the next two years.”

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As Washington grapples with the domestic repercussions of a voter-induced electoral earthquake that has kept the Senate in the hands of Democrats and put the inevitability of control of the Republican House on shaky ground, the most significant short-term effect is palpable here, during a trip Biden has long been scheduled to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping in person.

The United States National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan provided a glimpse into the dynamics of the moment, pointing to the fact that “many leaders learned of the results of the midterm elections, went to the president to engage him and say they were following them closely”.

When Biden met with Asian leaders ahead of his meeting with Xi, those talks provided critical impetus. “I would say one theme that came up over the two days was the theme about the strength of American democracy and what this election said about American democracy,” Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden flew from Phnom Penh. to Bali, Indonesia, for the G20 meeting.

authorities of White House even those bracing for losses in the weeks leading up to election day, set aside any reticence to use their Twitter accounts or TV interviews to criticize pundits and politicians who predicted otherwise. It is a reflection – abroad and in Washington – of a team that officials acknowledge feels constantly underappreciated and has long coveted unequivocal success after the first 21 months of their relentless and crisis-filled tenure.

But on the other side of the world, Biden’s advisers say there was a tangible effect linked to the election results that, if they coincided with historical trends, threatened to undermine his position ahead of the most important meeting of his first two years.

a different moment

White House officials have been circling the G20 as the likely meeting with Xi for months. There were intensive preparations between the two sides before the public announcement of the engagement. The tenuous state of the relationship required a meeting, regardless of domestic politics.

In the weeks leading up to the election, White House advisers played down the effect that medium-term losses would have on the weight of Biden’s presence and message abroad, citing the same historical trends they would later counter. But in particular, several people familiar with the matter said, there was an awareness of the potential split screen of a US president grappling with his party’s political defeat at the same time that Xi would arrive in Bali at the height of his power in the United States. Congress of the Communist Party, during which he secured a third term in power.

“Perception is important and so is political stance,” said a US official. “It’s not the main, end-all, and it’s never been a central focus or driver of the momentum, but we’re well aware of the fact that everyone was watching this election all over the world.”

Far from being a liability, however, each of the congratulatory calls back home highlighted the wind at the back of a president entering the meeting with Xi at a time when US-China relations appear to be drifting away from the big competition. of power towards the inevitable conflict.

Asked if the results put him in a stronger position for the meeting, Biden didn’t hesitate. “I know I’m stronger,” he said, before noting that given his long-standing relationship with Xi, formed during his time as their countries’ vice president, results were not a necessity for the meeting to achieve its goals.

US officials are also careful not to overstate the effect on a trip – and in a region – where the layers of complexity and challenges far exceed what voters decide in a congressional district or undecided state.

Biden aims to highlight US democracy against Xi’s autocracy

However, Biden is not subtle about his sweeping view of the geopolitical stakes of a moment he repeatedly frames as a generational “tipping point” centered on the battle between democracy and autocracy.

While his advisers have moved to frame this construct broadly, Biden has made it clear that the main autocracy that animates strategy and policy in nearly every corner of his government is Xi’s China.

Implicit in the White House mood that only seems to get more lively with each new day of tallied races, the election results prove that Biden’s theory of the case is, to some extent, actually working – that an American political landscape that served to shaking allies and enemies over the past few years was, in fact, stabilizing.

Biden has put high-stakes competition with China at the heart of his commitments to foreign leaders, pressing allies over the phone and in person to take a tougher line.

US officials have been looking for new ways to gain an edge in the economic and technological proxy competition that takes place between the two powers over developing regions and neutral parties. But the authorities also experienced an unmistakable – and, according to many, understandable – hesitation.

“What I think is they want to know: is the United States stable? Do we know what we’re about? Are we the same democracy we always were?” Biden said at his post-election press conference when describing his conversations with world leaders.

Elections provided Bindem with the validation he wanted

Until Election Day, allies and foes were largely left to take Biden’s word as he tried to answer these questions with an emphatic “Yes.”

Former President Donald Trump, whose electoral lies led to the attack on the US Capitol, has not disappeared and he has remained the most powerful figure within the Republican Party.

Biden navigated the narrowest of congressional majorities to pass broad domestic accountability, some of which was done on a bipartisan basis. However, he still maintained an approval rating in his 40s, burdened by four-decade high inflation and a population exhausted by years falling from crisis to crisis.

The possibility of Biden facing the same harsh judgment of his first two years in office as nearly all of his recent predecessors was just not likely. It was expected. Instead, as he went through bilateral meetings and breakups, gala dinners and summits, Biden’s own political claim served another purpose for his approach on the world stage: validation.

Biden “feels that it establishes a strong position for him on the international stage and we saw that I think it plays out in vivid color today,” Sullivan told reporters after Biden left the ASEAN-US Summit as Xi’s meeting approached. “I think we’ll see that as well when we get into the G20 and their bilateral engagements in Bali.”

Biden’s last day in Phnom Penh included a meeting with the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and critical meetings with the leaders of Japan and South Korea – all with a focus on China. But in the midst of that, he found a few minutes to get back on the phone. The Nevada Representative Dina Titus , who faced a tough battle for re-election in a redesigned district, secured another term. Biden needed to convey his congratulations.

Source: CNN Brasil

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