Biden seeks sharp contrast to Trump to mark D-Day in France

President Biden will depart Tuesday night for France, where he will spend the rest of the week seeking to draw a sharp contrast in values and in global leadership with former President Trump, his 2024 political rival.

Biden is set to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion alongside other world leaders and deliver remarks focused on democracy and freedom, a major tentpole of his reelection bid.

The president will cap off his visit with a stop at the same cemetery where Trump was unable to visit due to weather in 2018 and reportedly referred to those buried there as “losers” and “suckers,” comments Biden has repeatedly cited to attack his predecessor.

The trip will give Biden a stage to sharply differentiate himself from Trump at a time when the former president is already reeling from a New York jury finding him guilty on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records as part of a hush money scheme.

“President 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,” said White House national security communications adviser John Kirby.

Biden has in recent months more frequently brought up the claims from former Trump aides that, during a trip to France of his own in 2018, Trump demeaned veterans wounded or killed in action as “suckers.”

Biden, during a fundraiser on Monday, hit Trump for those comments.

“Losers and suckers! Who in the hell does he think he is?” Biden said, raising his voice in front of a room of donors.

Kirby said Biden “looks forward to paying respects” to these veterans when asked about the upcoming visit to the same cemetery that Trump didn’t visit.

“The message is simple: that the service and the sacrifice of American troops in wars overseas, World War I… and of course World War II, should never be forgotten,” Kirby said. “Those are the messages that the president is trying to send with these visits. That in these two wars, of course these brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, they didn’t sacrifice their futures for nothing and we need to take every opportunity that we can to acknowledge that.”

Biden is expected to give remarks in Normandy on June 6 to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landing. He will meet with U.S. veterans and veterans of other allies who participated in the massive invasion, which helped turn the tide of World War II.

He will also deliver remarks in Pointe du Hoc, France on June 7.

The symbolism of Biden commemorating the allied victory over European dictators in World War II will serve as a thinly veiled rebuke of Trump, who Biden has repeatedly claimed would be a “dictator on day one” and who has drawn condemnation for using rhetoric echoing dictators.

To mark Memorial Day last month, Biden’s reelection campaign said in a statement that “the American dream so many sacrificed for is under threat from Donald Trump, a man who called those who made the ultimate sacrifice ‘suckers’ and ‘losers,’ dreams of himself as a dictator who oversees a ‘unified Reich,’ and would destroy the very idea of America to put himself into power.”

Biden will also travel to Paris on June 8 for the official state visit with French President Emmanuel Macron.

“This visit will underscore continued U.S.-French leadership on a range of consequential issues,” Kirby said, noting that Biden and Macron will discuss Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific region, the Israel-Hamas war, and climate change.

Kirby said to expect the two leaders to deepen their transatlantic relationship and Indo-Pacific cooperation, as well as efforts to increase clean energy investments and to highlight U.S.-French cooperation ahead of this summer’s Olympic games in Paris to make sure they are safe.

Other leaders, including King Charles III, are expected to travel to France at the same time, giving Biden the opportunity to talk to other key allies during the election year and give him a chance to be seen alongside counterparts.

Later in June, Biden will travel to Italy for the Group of Seven summit, giving him another opportunity to be on the world stage.

Biden has staunchly moved away from Trump’s America First agenda, which was focused on isolationism, and has rejoined global alliances and partnerships.  The White House noted that Biden’s international engagements this week will highlight those efforts over three years into his presidency and amid a tough reelection battle.

“When he talks about American leadership, it’s not an arrogant leadership. It’s a humble leadership,” Kirby said. “He recognizes that for as powerful as we are and as much good as we can do. We need help. Our allies and partners bring things to the endeavor that we can’t always bring and… we send a much stronger signal about lofty words like peace and freedom and stability and security when we’re working in concert with one another.”

While campaigning across the country this year, Biden often brings up his conversations with other global leaders in an attempt to distinguish himself from Trump’s America First agenda.

And, he uses those conversations to highlight what he thinks are the stakes of this election.

“There’s not a major international meeting I attend that before it’s over—and I’ve attended many, more than most presidents have in three and a half years—that a world leader doesn’t pull me aside as I’m leaving and say, ‘He can’t win. You can’t let him win,’” Biden told Time Magazine in an interview published Tuesday.

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