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Biden, in Foreign Policy Speech, to Urge Summit Promoting Democracy


After spending two weeks sparring with his presidential primary opponents, Joseph R. Biden Jr. will again seek to rise above the Democratic fray on Thursday, delivering a sweeping foreign policy address that will highlight his own experience while refocusing his message once again on the need to oust President Trump.

In broad but unequivocal terms, Mr. Biden is expected to take direct aim at Mr. Trump, saying his judgment has tarnished the country’s reputation abroad and undermined its ability to achieve its foreign policy goals. As a counterpoint, Mr. Biden will lay out his own foreign policy vision that includes putting diplomacy first and working with other countries — rather than unilaterally — toward collective goals.

Among his specific proposals will be a plan to convene a summit of the world’s democracies to “try to refocus on our common purpose,” according to a senior Biden campaign official. The summit would also include members of the private sector, the official said, aligning with an initiative aimed at countering the abuse of technology across the world. Mr. Biden would also rejoin the Paris climate accord as a component of his global plan to confront climate change.

Mr. Biden’s initiatives, which he will outline in New York City, would constitute an embrace of multilateralism, and a rebuke of Mr. Trump’s policy of spurning international agreements and denigrating institutions like NATO.

His approach suggests an effort to bring the campaign back to where he is most comfortable: Above the crowded Democratic field, seeking to cast the contest as a head-to-head matchup against Mr. Trump.

The speech also comes as Mr. Biden seeks to move past a difficult stretch of the campaign, following a shaky debate performance that worried even many of his allies, as well as days spent defending his civil rights record.

On Saturday, in a rare move from a politician who often resists making apologies, Mr. Biden expressed regret for speaking warmly about working relationships with segregationists at a fund-raiser last month. He sought to put the episode behind him after Senator Kamala Harris chided him in the first presidential primary debate, lacing into him for his opposition to some busing initiatives dating to the 1970s.

Mr. Biden is not expected to draw explicit distinctions with his Democratic rivals in his address Thursday. He will, however, offer an implicit contrast to them: His allies argue that Mr. Biden, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a former vice president, has more experience on the global stage than any of his opponents at a time when many Democrats believe Mr. Trump has shredded America’s credibility and standing in the world.

In a video released before the speech, Mr. Biden’s campaign attempted to paint Mr. Trump as a dangerous global steward, offering clips of him alongside authoritarian leaders including Kim Jong-un of North Korea and Vladimir Putin of Russia.

Though there has already been some focus on Mr. Biden’s previous support for the Iraq War during the campaign — Senator Bernie Sanders has attacked him for that position and his aides say he intends to continue doing so this summer — Mr. Biden’s campaign said the speech would be focused on the present and the future, rather than the past. And he is expected to speak about Russia and North Korea, countries that the president has embraced as he pursues his preference of one-on-one deal making.

Mr. Biden’s foreign policy consists of three pillars, the senior campaign official said: restoring democracy at home through efforts that include remaking the country’s education system and increasing transparency in politics; “leveraging the economic might of our partners” to deal with economic adversaries like China; and restoring the country’s position at the “head of the table” to mobilize countries against global threats like nuclear proliferation and mass migration.

The campaign official, insisting on anonymity to discuss planned remarks, said that some of Mr. Biden’s plans would be aimed at restoring President Obama’s agenda but would also moving beyond it by, for example, bolstering efforts on climate change.


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