Foreign Leaders Are Worried About Biden’s Decline: Report

American presidents are charged with more than just overseeing the domestic governance of the United States. They also represent the world’s most influential government on the international stage. In the aftermath of last week’s disastrous debate performance, world leaders are expressing concerns about President Joe Biden’s declining health, and his ability to serve out another four-year term in a time of international turmoil.

According to a Friday report from The Washington Post, anxiety among prominent foreign heads of state was rising before Biden’s debate against Donald Trump. In June, Biden attended the annual Group of Seven (G7) summit in Italy. Several sources who discussed Biden’s appearance at the summit directly with European leaders told the Post that Biden’s counterparts were struck by how diminished, both physically and mentally,  the president appeared. Three people indicated that Biden struggled to keep his train of thought, and one participant said Biden had to be asked to speak up during discussions repeatedly.

Biden also skipped a private dinner party with world leaders — one where heads of state typically engage in discussions and negotiations away from the prying eyes of the press.

While European leaders may have raised eyebrows during their interactions with Biden at the G7, the debate threw his diminished state into a new light.

“What has changed the discourse here in Europe is not the G-7. It’s the debate,” one person familiar with discussions between the G7 leaders told the Post. “Leaders were dismayed by Biden’s performance — they told themselves they should have realized at the G-7 … and came to the conclusion that he cannot win in November.”

Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, told the Post that world leaders expressed concerns including that they “don’t see him being able to run the country for four more years. How are you running this guy for four more years? How are you going to win this election?”

“It’s very, very rare in a democracy that the person you run for an election is someone that you all know can’t lead the country for four more years,” Bremmer added.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal published similar statements from people familiar with the G7’s attendees’ concerns in the immediate aftermath of the debate. Two senior European officials told the Journal that Biden had struggled to keep up with discussions and manage his talking points at an October European Union-U.S. meeting in D.C.

Nathalie Tocci, director of the Institute of International Affairs, told the Journal that the debate was seen as an “unmitigated disaster” by European leaders. “It’s something that has been known, always, that his age is his main Achilles’ heel,” she said.

The scrutiny won’t stop anytime soon. Next week, dozens of heads of state are expected to converge in Washington, D.C., for a three-day NATO summit. In anticipation, the White House is working to deflect concerns over Biden’s health and faculties by redirecting the conversation towards the threat posed by Trump.

“What they’re worried about is Trump, not Biden,” one White House official told The Washington Post.

With a jam-packed schedule and critical policy discussions on the summit’s agenda, all eyes will be on Biden. As domestic lawmakers, donors, and political commentators continue to increase the pressure on the president to reconsider staying in the race, foreign leaders may soon find themselves joining the growing calls for an election-year shakeup of the Democratic ticket.

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