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Biden sticks to teleprompters as he awards NATO chief Medal of Freedom at start of 75-year summit

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden read carefully from teleprompters Tuesday in his speech at the opening of NATO’s annual summit — before presenting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of his service.

The 81-year-old president spoke with some minor verbal stumbles — at one point, he tried to pronounce the word “Ukraine” — as Democrats in Congress debated Biden’s political fate after his muddled debate performance on June 27.

President Joe Biden read carefully through teleprompters Tuesday as he opened the annual NATO summit. dad
The 81-year-old president spoke with some minor verbal stumbles — at one point, he tried to pronounce the word “Ukraine.” dad

“[Russian President Vladimir] “Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine continues, and Putin wants nothing less than to subjugate Ukraine completely, end its democracy, destroy its culture, and wipe Ukraine off the map,” Biden said.

“We know that Putin will not stop in Ukraine, but make no mistake, Ukraine can and will stop Putin.”

Biden spoke just minutes after Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) joined other House Democrats in calling for his campaign for a second term to end over concerns about his mental acuity.

In his speech to NATO leaders, Trump took veiled swipe at former President Donald Trump — including quoting former President Ronald Reagan while arguing against withdrawing from NATO and aid to Ukraine.

President Joe Biden, right, awards NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg the Presidential Medal of Freedom on the occasion of NATO’s 75th anniversary. dad

“The American people know that all of the progress we have made over the past 75 years has happened behind the shield of NATO,” Biden said.

“The American people understand what would happen if there were no NATO: another war in Europe, American soldiers fighting and dying, dictators wreaking havoc, economic collapse, catastrophe… As President Reagan said, and I quote, ‘If our sister democracies are not secure, we are not secure.’”

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Trump, 78, has expressed skepticism about the $175 billion Congress has appropriated to fund the Ukraine war since early 2022 and has vowed to personally negotiate an end to the war if he defeats Biden in the Nov. 5 election.

Biden concluded his speech by inviting Stoltenberg to the podium of Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium — the venue for the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on April 4, 1949 — to present him with America’s highest civilian honor.

Biden spoke just minutes after Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) joined six other House Democrats in publicly demanding that Biden end his campaign for a second term over concerns about his mental acuity. AFP via Getty Images

“Today, NATO is stronger, smarter, and more agile than when we began,” Biden said. “A billion people in Europe, North America, and the world will reap the fruits of your work for years to come in the form of greater security, opportunity, and freedom.”

Biden will face a test of his extemporaneous speaking skills on Thursday at a news conference that aides say will include at least three reporters — with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre repeatedly referring to the event as a “big press conference” in recent public remarks.

So far, the president has stuck closely to prepared remarks, seeking to quell growing calls for him to step aside to allow a new Democratic presidential nominee.

US President Joe Biden speaks at a NATO event marking the alliance’s 75th anniversary. Reuters

“I would not run again if I did not fully believe I am the best person to beat Donald Trump in 2024,” Biden said in a letter to congressional Democrats on Monday.

“We have 42 days until the Democratic Convention and 119 days until the General Election,” Biden wrote. “Any weakness of resolve or lack of clarity about the task ahead will only help Trump and hurt us.”

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But Democrats continued to express concern on Capitol Hill, where the president’s defenders and critics failed to reach consensus in meetings on Tuesday as crowds of reporters waited outside for updates.

What you need to know about the fallout from President Biden’s debate performance:

“Because I know President Biden cares deeply about the future of our country, I am asking him to announce that he will not seek re-election and will help lead us through the process toward a new nominee,” Sherrill said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Actors Adam Smith Reps. John Kerry (D-Wash.), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Rep. Mike Cogley (D-Ill.), Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) have also issued public statements calling on Biden to step down.

Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Joseph Morell (D-N.Y.) reportedly said in a conference call Sunday that they want Biden to end his nomination, but they have not publicly confirmed their positions. Nadler said Tuesday that he will stand by Biden because he will not give up the nomination.

Other Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Jared Golden of Maine and Rep. Mary Glossenkamp Perez of Washington, have said publicly that they expect him to lose to Trump.

Senators Jon Tester (D-Montana), Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) It said Democratic Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) expressed concern at a Democratic luncheon Tuesday that Biden would lose to Trump. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has reportedly drafted an unpublished letter calling on Biden to step down, and other elected Democrats, including Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, have also called on Biden to drop out of the race.

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