Foreign trip becomes victory lap for strengthened Biden

President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

For President Joe Biden, an international trip scheduled for just days after the midterm election looked like it would offer an escape hatch, allowing him to jet far away as he faced what many thought would be a crushing verdict from voters.

Instead his journey, which included stops in Egypt, Cambodia and Indonesia, turned into an around-the-world victory lap. Biden spent the trip making congratulatory calls to Democrats who fared better than expected in the midterms, emboldening him during three global summits where he pushed for stronger action on climate change, closer economic ties in Asia and greater condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

After facing doubts at home and abroad over his insistence that the United States is turning the page on his chaotic predecessor, Donald Trump, Biden’s contention that “America is back” appeared more durable than ever.

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18 KJV

U.S. President Joe Biden arrive as leaders visit a mangrove seeding area as part of the G20 Summit in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, on Wednesday Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara,Pool)

“At this critical moment,” Biden said at a press conference in front of a Balinese temple in Indonesia, “no nation is better positioned to help build the future we want than the United States of America.”

As Biden returns from his trip, though, he faces daunting challenges to his presidency, including worries about a potential recession and questions over whether he should run for a second term. Because of inflation and other factors, Americans will sit down to more expensive Thanksgiving dinners next week.

And although Democrats will keep control of the Senate, Republicans have won a narrow majority in the House, giving them a chance to block Biden’s legislative agenda and launch investigations of his administration.

Those concerns receded from view, at least temporarily, with Biden overseas and as Republicans plunged into recriminations over who was responsible for their party’s weak performance in the midterms. Some pointed fingers at Trump, whose chosen candidates largely fell short across the country.

When Trump officially launched another presidential campaign on Tuesday night, Biden was at the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia, the last stop on his trip. He brushed off the news as he gathered with world leaders to plant mangrove trees, a symbol of strength and resilience.

Biden exchanged looks with French President Emmanuel Macron — a faint smirk, perhaps — as reporters asked if he had any response to the announcement …

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