NATO summit in DC is 'pivotal' make-or-break for Biden as scrutiny over fitness for office intensifies

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President Biden must use the NATO summit in Washington, D.C., this week to make his case that he is fit to serve as his party’s nominee, while the Democrats remain skeptical following his debate performance, according to experts.

“This week is pivotal for President Biden, not only because of the intense interest in what he will be saying at his press events but also because this summit provides a clear example of restored American global leadership in support of our nation’s defense,” Joel Rubin, a former State Department official during the Obama administration, told Fox News Digital.

The long-term bipartisan investment in NATO is paying off, and the president will have a chance, at this summit, to remind the American people about why his approach of building security coalitions with global partners advances both America’s security abroad and our economy right here at home.

Biden has faced growing resistance to his campaign for re-election ever since his debate against the presumptive GOP nominee, former President Trump, which many deemed a disaster for showcasing the president in a worse light than many anticipated. Trump at one point said, “I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence” as Biden appeared to trail off during one of his answers. 


The response to the seeming shortcoming proved resounding. Biden-friendly media outlets, including major newspaper editorial boards, started publishing op-eds to urge the president to hand off his campaign to another candidate. And rumors abound that Democrats in the House and Senate will present letters to the president urging him to reconsider his insistence on running for a second term.

All of that scrutiny will continue in greater magnitude during this week’s NATO summit, which Biden leads in the nation’s capital and must use to show the American public that he can still get the job done, according to a number of members of Congress.

NATO Summit stage

A reporter works in the media center for the NATO summit in Washington, D.C., on July 9, 2024. (Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., told Fox News Digital that Biden “must show the American public that he has the ability to serve out the remainder of this term, let alone a future one” as the “eyes of the world” watch the NATO summit. 

“It is on President Biden to show he’s capable and up to the task,” Lawler said. “What we’ve seen in recent weeks doesn’t cut it.”


Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., argued that Biden’s situation is difficult enough without “having to pander to our allies” and China and Russia “closely watching.” He called the entire situation “frightening.” 

“With our open border and enemies on the march, we are in a period of maximum danger,” Waltz said. “The world has two clear choices this November: more weakness and chaos under Biden or a return to strength under Trump.”

Sen. McConnell with Sen. Schumer and Canadian PM Trudeau

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, Canadian Ambassador to the United States Kirsten Hillman, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are shown in Schumer’s office at the U.S. Capitol on July 9, 2024. (Bonnie Cash/Getty Images)

A spokesperson for Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., referred to recent statements the senator made about Biden and his fitness to serve in which Fetterman called out party members for allegedly looking to abandon Biden after his poor debate showing. During an appearance on Fox News this month, he called the reaction “the dumbest s— I’ve ever heard.” 

“I mean, if you are more inclined to vote for a Democrat or be a Democrat, if you’re willing to walk away from Joe Biden, you’re, by defecting, helping Trump,” Fetterman told Fox News Sunday anchor Shannon Bream, pointing to his own difficult debate that preceded a historic win as proof that it’s possible to recover. 


“I refuse to join the Democratic vultures on Biden’s shoulder after the debate. No one knows more than me that a rough debate is not the sum total of the person and their record,” Fetterman wrote on social media platform X shortly after the debate ended and panic set in throughout the party. 

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told FOX Business‘ “Varney & Co.” host Stuart Varney, “When you have a president that projects weakness, this is what you get: It invites conflict and aggression and war,” referring to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and Israel’s operations against Hamas in Gaza.

NATO chief tossing out first pitch at Nationals game

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, throws out the first pitch before a game between the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals in Washington, D.C., on July 8, 2024. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

“I think after the debate performance … it was very dangerous, in my view, because it sends a signal of weakness and incompetence to our foreign adversaries,” McCaul added, separately writing on X, “As world leaders gather in D.C. this week, all eyes are on the president.”

The ongoing war in Ukraine has already made the NATO summit a vital one as the conflict rumbles through its third year with no clear path toward an ending. Rubin noted the need for NATO to come away with some direction and clear intent as threats from the likes of Russia, China and Iran remain.

“President Biden has successfully pressed the majority of NATO countries (23 out of 37) to meet the critical benchmark of 2% spending of their GDP on defense,” Rubin noted.


“This number was at six when his administration began,” he explained. “NATO is also going to be announcing its plan for Ukraine to have a bridge to NATO membership and will be backing up this plan with concrete actions, including elevating the coordination of Ukraine’s defense assistance to be held under NATO command.”

“Lastly, yet crucially, America’s defense industry will be accessing new global opportunities for investment both abroad and at home, with more than $36 billion of American taxpayer funds dedicated for Ukraine’s military being spent right here at home in almost every state of the nation,” Rubin said.

Fox News Digital’s Julia Johnson contributed to this report.

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