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The days leading up to President Joe Biden's highly touted trip to Europe did not play out as the White House had hoped, and questions remain as to whether or not he can regain control of the narrative while overseas.
The White House has been framing Biden's attendance at the 2021 G-7 summit, and various face-to-face meetings with foreign dignitaries, as an opportunity to assure U.S. allies that the current administration is capable of retaking its place atop the international pantheon.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Monday that Biden hopes to "show the rest of the world that the United States has the power and purpose to be able to deliver as the world's leading democracy."
National Economic Council Deputy Director Sameera Fazili outlined Tuesday how the president will stress supply chain resilience and the need to invest in the green energy industry to G-7 members and, in doing so, possibly convince congressional Republicans to sign on with the administration's infrastructure proposals.
However, Tuesday's total breakdown in infrastructure negotiations and the numerous hiccups scattered throughout Vice President Kamala Harris's tour of Guatemala and Mexico muddied that clean narrative.
Randy Jones, a Democratic strategist and founder of United Public Affairs, says the past two days make "clear that the honeymoon is over for the administration."
"That being said, President Biden has a number of legislative standout wins under his belt, and they can’t let setbacks like a complete lack of cooperation from Sen. Shelley Moore Capito on infrastructure overshadow what we elected him to do in the wake of Trump: be a statesman," he said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. "I look for the President to shine this week while putting our nation's best foot forward on the world stage."
Republican strategist Adam Goodman offered a more sour assessment of Biden's prospects over the next week.
"I don't think that we should hold our breath that something major is going to come out of this," he told the Washington Examiner of the summit and Biden's subsequent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "The worst headline would be that America no longer sits at the head of the table, that they are around the table, but not the head of the table."
"This is something that the Biden administration has some time to correct," Goodman continued. "But I think this week is not going to be a banner week for them."
Senior GOP aides interviewed by the Washington Examinerˆ were particularly critical of Harris's performance in Central America.
One aide questioned why the administration would send someone with no true foreign policy experience on such an important mission days before Biden's trip, while another doubted that any foreign policy wins Biden could secure from U.S. allies would make up for Harris's handling of the immigration situation.
“Kamala Harris’s first foreign trip was a disaster from the start. Both the Guatemalan and El Salvadorian presidents rebuked the Biden-Harris administration’s border failures as driving the illegal immigration crisis," a third aide claimed in a statement. "Let alone her disastrous interviews and nervous-tic laughter when pushed about visiting the border, reminding the world why Harris dropped out two months before the Iowa Caucuses."
"Joe Biden’s first trip abroad won’t be much better with his attempt to show strength to our European allies who are witnessing his foreign policy disasters," the aide continued. "So what’s Biden’s next move? Rewarding Vladimir Putin with a meeting after ceding control of European energy to Russia.”
Two other Republican aides suggested that the timing of Biden's trip might help refocus media attention away from the breakdown in infrastructure talks and Harris pitfalls. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during Tuesday's briefing that, while abroad, the president would be in touch with Democratic leaders crafting the legislation, and one GOP aide said to the Washington Examiner that the weeklong trip would allow Democrats time to circle the wagons and pass the bill through reconciliation.
It's worth noting that it isn't just Republicans criticizing Harris's performance this week.
CNN reported Wednesday morning that White House officials felt "perplexed" and "frustrated" by the vice president's about-face on the border trip. Harris had maintained for months that despite being tapped by Biden to lead the administration's response to the migrant crisis, she does not need to visit the southern border as she is focused on the root causes forcing people to leave South and Central American countries, while Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is overseeing the situation at the border. That all changed following her awkward responses to questions on the topic by NBC's Lester Holt.
“The vice president saw this trip as an opportunity to burnish her foreign policy credentials after entering office with very little foreign policy experience,” CNN's Jeremy Diamond said on New Day Wednesday morning. "She also hoped to make real progress on the root causes on migration from Central America."
“But there are now concerns that some of that progress may have been overshadowed by her answers to some of these questions that her team knew that she would be facing,” he continued. "It’s left some of the administration officials perplexed and the vice president’s team frustrated."
The White House did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner's requests for comment.
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Original Author: Christian Datoc