Biden hosts NATO dinner as he hopes to maintain fresh image

Biden hosts NATO dinner as he hopes to maintain fresh image

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden welcomed NATO dignitaries to the white house for a social dinner in Washington on Wednesday.

Biden is hosting world leaders in Washington for the NATO summit this week with a crowded schedule of formal meetings, sideline chats and long diplomatic dinners, all opportunities to showcase he is up to the job despite a worrisome performance last month in the first presidential debate with Trump.

His imperilled reelection campaign hit new trouble Wednesday as House Speaker emerita Nancy Pelosi said merely “it's up to the president to decide” if he should stay in the race, while celebrity donor George Clooney said he should not run and Democratic senators and lawmakers expressing fresh fear about his ability to beat Republican Donald Trump.

On Thursday, the president has a fresh opportunity Thursday to prove to the American public that he’s capable of serving another four years.

Biden, 81, will close out the NATO summit in Washington — an event meant to showcase his leadership on the world stage — with a rare solo press conference. His stamina and effectiveness are under the microscope like never before and he's struggling to quell the Democratic Party's panic about his chances this November.

By many metrics, from job growth and major legislation to the expanded transatlantic alliance, Biden can point to successes during his tenure in office. But where he has sometimes failed — spectacularly, in the case of the debate — is at a defining part of the role that isn’t in the official job description: Delivering inspiring oratory that commands the attention and respect of the nation.

Biden has tried to step up his performance since the debate but his follow-up interview on ABC last week was seen as disappointing.

Americans tend to regard their leaders less for what they do than how they make them feel, and Biden's debate disaster has shaken his party to its core.

“The debate was a reminder that you can have as many policies as you want, but what the public sees and hears might matter more,” said Julian Zelizer, the Princeton presidential historian.

His press conference will be closely watched for his ability to think on his feet, to demonstrate dynamism and to articulate both that he is still capable of doing the job and of winning it once more.