Joe Biden brings U.S. values to the Polish presidential election

Vice President Joe Biden savored a moment of personal reprieve as his lightning-speed European tour took him straight into the heart of Poland’s controversial presidential election. Hoping to encourage voters to support more pro-European…

Joe Biden brings U.S. values to the Polish presidential election

Vice President Joe Biden savored a moment of personal reprieve as his lightning-speed European tour took him straight into the heart of Poland’s controversial presidential election.

Hoping to encourage voters to support more pro-European Union candidates, Biden will meet on Saturday with Polish President Andrzej Duda, who is facing a close vote next week. Those discussions will come after a Vatican audience with Pope Francis.

And the vice president had a particularly touching moment Saturday at a campaign rally in Krakow, Poland. The most vocal presidential candidate, lawyer Mateusz Morawiecki, was the first to reach out to Biden after the vice president’s plane landed in the Polish capital, and the two shook hands and embraced.

Biden has had the support of Poland’s longtime Catholic Church leaders, and the former senator was greeted as a kindred spirit in their efforts to pressure conservatives here to embrace the EU. He addressed a crowd that included members of Poland’s Catholic clergy and nuns.

“The stakes for Poland and for the rest of Europe are enormous,” Biden said, according to pool reports. “We know we are far from making all the right decisions in Poland. What you need are good, common sense values to set you on the right path.”

Saturday was the opening day of Biden’s whirlwind, five-day swing through Europe, which already has included stops in Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden. He will head to Madrid and Paris Sunday.

There are several elections and movements on Sunday in Europe, and some views are shaping up to be a challenge for Biden and the United States. Two countries in the currency union will hold crucial votes: Austrian voters will choose a new parliament, which is expected to approve a balanced budget amendment that would mark a major shift toward European fiscal responsibility. Irish voters will decide whether to oust Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who has overseen significant economic growth and has said he will step down after four terms.

French voters will cast ballots for the country’s upper and lower houses of parliament, as well as in two local elections. Voters in Germany will select a new parliament on Sunday, with Chancellor Angela Merkel facing a rough ride from the far-right AfD party, which has said it opposes multilateral partnerships and immigration.

Biden is pushing a three-pronged approach to bolster Europeans: increased economic and security cooperation, farsighted approach to migration and promoting human rights. The themes of his trip are rooted in his own family history: His great-grandfather was a wealthy Polish-American coal baron who fled pogroms in Germany after World War I to turn a mine in northeastern Poland into a rich resource.

The Vatican is hardly the only place where Biden has been trying to promote family values. He was joined by Obama administration officials including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett at a gala banquet at the Polish Embassy in Washington on Friday night to mark the 125th anniversary of the Polish Government.

Biden and Tillerson were among the several hundred attendees, where they savored Polish specialties like wine and chicken paprikash. Biden’s wife, Jill, was pictured with a chunky chunk of chicken paprikash.

In contrast to Pope Francis, Biden is not known for his orthodoxy. He once described homosexuality as a “tragic choice,” however. He has also suggested that France’s Nord Stream II pipeline, which would send natural gas from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea, was “very problematic” and a threat to the European Union.

Before returning to Washington on Saturday, Biden will travel to Belgium for the NATO summit, where he plans to meet with leaders to discuss threats to the alliance.

One of his speech staples is a call for Poland and other eastern European nations to align themselves with the EU, which he said would protect them from Russian aggression. The administration has also indicated it is skeptical of the Putin regime, and has decried Russia’s incursion into Crimea. The Trump administration has not announced any plans to implement sanctions against Russia.

“If there is a conflict or a pretext for conflict, the consequences will not be nice,” Biden told the crowd at the Krakow campaign rally. “We are not going to have a naked race to the nuclear precipice. You guys are too smart for that.”

Leave a Comment