Donald Trump has a commander-in-chief problem, and the White House will try to exploit it again on Monday by forcefully criticizing his anti-immigration and anti-Muslim stances.
Days after President Barack Obama delivered a rhetorical broadside at the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s response to the Orlando, Fla., nightclub shooting, Vice President Joseph R. Biden ’s will take his turn. He's to deliver a sweeping repudiation of Trump’s many pronouncements, including his vow to build a wall on the Mexican border at that country’s expense.
“Our greatest strength is not the example of our power—it is the power of our example. Our values. Our democracy,” Biden is due to say in a speech to a national security conference in Washington. “The diversity and dynamism of our people—a nation of immigrants. Our commitment to inclusion and tolerance.
“Standing up for our values protects us better than any barrier we could ever build between ourselves and the rest of the world — because our values are what draw the world to our side,” Biden will say, according to excerpts released Sunday afternoon by the White House and embargoed until Monday morning.
[ Poll: No Viable Trump Alternative for GOP Establishment ] Trump has implied Obama knew more about the Orlando attack than he is letting on and supports radial Islamic terrorists . This week Trump also tweeted an article that said the Obama administration secretly supported ISIS.
Trump’s candidacy has been fueled by what some political scientists increasingly are calling a unique brand of nativism -- some even say neo-fascism -- not seen on the presidential campaign trail in the United States for decades -- and perhaps never on this scale.
“We’re going to build the wall, and we’re going to stop it. It’s going to end,” Trump said at a campaign stop in March, referring to illegal immigration. “We’re going to have a big, beautiful wall.”
As a former Senate Foreign Relations chairman who has relationships with leaders across the globe, Biden appears to be the White House’s attack dog on such issues as the general election ramps up. When he announced he would not seek the presidency late last year, Biden vowed to be an active voice during his final months in public life.
The speech at an annual conference organized by the Center for a New American Security will be delivered to a room packed with foreign policy and national security professionals. But its likely intended audience is uncommitted voters skeptical of the billionaire businessman, and ones who have doubts about Trump as the next president.
A recent Economist/YouGov poll found only 24 percent of independent voters believe he is qualified to be commander in chief. Likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton scored better with that group, with 45 percent saying the former secretary of state is ready to hold the nuclear codes and lead the U.S. military.
Embracing the Obama administration's foreign policy approach, Biden advocates working more with partners around the globe using a softer tone than was used by many U.S. officials during the post-9/11 era. Military force is only to be used when senior officials view it as absolutely necessary to defend American interests.
“With smart, sustained, and steady American leadership, we can seize these opportunities and leave a more peaceful and prosperous future for our children and grandchildren,” he will say. That portion of the excerpts did not mention Clinton, but echoes her campaign messaging materials.
Trump also is standing by his proposed ban on Muslims from entering the United States . Following the Orlando shooting, he said this: “Although the pause is temporary, we must find out what is going on.”
Biden will warn against “wielding the politics of fear and intolerance—like proposals to ban Muslims from entering the United States or slandering entire religious communities as complicit in terrorism.”
“Alienating 1.5 billion Muslims—the vast, vast majority of whom, at home and abroad, are peace-loving—will only make the problem worse,” Biden asserts, according to the excerpts.
Following standard White House practice of not saying Trump’s name, Biden is also due to warn the billionaire's rhetoric and proposals play into the hands of ISIS and other groups because they want “to manufacture a clash of civilizations . … We shouldn’t give them what they want.”
[ Obama: Orlando Families 'Don't Care About Politics' ] Notably, Biden will sound an alarm about cozying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin . Trump has repeatedly praised Putin on the campaign trail, recently dubbing him "a leader -- unlike what we have in this country."
“Embracing Putin at a time of renewed Russian aggression could call into question America’s longstanding commitment to a Europe whole, free and at peace,” according to the speech excerpts. “But neither is it time to dust off the Cold War playbook.”
What the next president should do is keep up the Obama administration work with Moscow -- but only “where our interests overlap.” And in a grim proposal, Biden will call for “new channels” of communication with other Russian leaders to avoid “miscalculation and escalation.”
The vice president will warn if “we turn inward, undermine our most important relationships, or seek sound bite solutions in a world defined by complexity … if we forget who we are, betray our values, and embrace intolerance … we will squander all of our hard-earned progress.”
Trump and many Republican hawks on Capitol Hill contend the Obama administration’s track record on foreign policy and national security has been anything but stellar, arguing it led to the Islamic State’s rise and failed to temper a resurgent Russia .
[ Out of Options, Obama Now a Bystander in Gun Debate ] Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., last week told reporters Obama is “directly responsible ” for the Orlando shooting that left 49 people and the shooter, who allegedly during the attack claimed allegiance to ISIS leaders, dead. McCain later said he was referring to Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, not the president personally.
Biden will acknowledge “challenges surely remain, including undocumented migration,” but he will take on Trump’s characterization of a country and world in turmoil and despair by saying of the North and Central Americas: “Today, the region is defined by opportunities, not crises."