Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden vowed Thursday in Manhattan to restore the United States' standing on the world stage if elected, arguing that President Donald Trump has isolated the country and hurt its credibility.
The former vice president, in a major foreign policy speech at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, urged a return to multilateralism to combat collective threats such as nuclear proliferation, climate change and China's economic dominance.
“Donald Trump’s brand of America first has too often led to America alone,” Biden said. “American foreign policy has to be purposeful and inspiring, based on clear goals driven by sound strategies, not by Twitter tantrums."
Biden, who served as President Barack Obama's vice president and also spent 35 years in the Senate, has the lengthiest political resume in the crowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls. He sought with his 45-minute speech to turn attention to what he has long touted as a strength — his foreign policy experience — after weeks of scrutiny over his civil rights record.
Biden said Trump has cozied up to dictators including Russia's Vladimir Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong Un and his policies encourage nuclear proliferation rather than curb it.
“I’ve worked on these issues my entire career. I understand what’s at stake and the consequences of the failure to act,” Biden said.
He pledged, if elected, to end "forever wars" in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
He did not mention his vote in 2002 as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to authorize the use of force against Iraq. He apologized in 2005 for his vote.
A rival for the Democratic nomination, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who voted against the measure as a House member, said Thursday that Biden owes “an explanation to the American people about why he made that horrendous mistake,” according to CNN.
Another candidate for president, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), also opposed the authorization as a congressman and has criticized Biden's support of it.
The Republican National Committee on Thursday said Biden "has consistently advocated for dangerous and destabilizing foreign policy strategies his entire career."
But the former vice president sought to keep the spotlight on Trump, who he said is viewed by the international community as "insincere, ill-informed and impulsive, and sometimes corrupt."
His campaign Thursday released a video assailing the "Trump doctrine." The video opened with a clip of the president eliciting laughter from world leaders when he boasted about his administration at last year's United Nations General Assembly. It also shows Trump alongside Putin and Kim.
Biden said he would return the United States to the NATO alliance, the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal, all reversals of Trump's foreign policy.
Additionally, Biden appealed for middle-class votes by promising a more innovative economy that can better compete with China and other superpowers.
He said he is committed to protecting Israel, “regardless of how much you may disagree with its present leader," a reference to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He said he would host an annual “summit of democracies” in the nation’s capital.
The former vice president, who later Thursday was due at a fundraiser in Manhattan, saw his polling numbers fall following the first official debates of the primary but maintains his front-runner status with more than 200 days to go until the Iowa caucuses.