On the occasion of his very first White House press conference this Thursday, the new US President, Joe Biden, announced that he would double his Covid-19 vaccine target for his first 100 days and considered being candidate for succession in 2024.
Epidemic, immigration, firearms… The President of the United States defended the results of his first two months while putting the influx of migrants into perspective. “I was elected to solve problems, not to create division,” said the septuagenarian Democrat, who submitted for the first time to this formal exercise in front of reporters.
Joe Biden has revised his ambition upwards
“I said up front that the most pressing issues for the American people are Covid-19 and the economic crisis for millions and millions of Americans. That’s why I focused at the beginning on these particular problems ”, he explained, praising his gigantic stimulus package of 1.900 billion dollars and an effective vaccination campaign. While his initial goal of 100 million doses administered during the first 100 days of his mandate was reached on the 58th day, he revised his ambition upwards to accelerate the fight against the pandemic which killed 545,000 states -United. “We will have made 200 million injections by my hundredth day in office,” promised Joe Biden.
But the bulk of the questions have revolved around what Republicans and much of the media describe as a “crisis” on the border with Mexico. And in particular on the fate of the 15,500 unaccompanied foreign minors for whom the American authorities are responsible, including nearly 5,000 housed in premises which are not intended to accommodate children. The 46th president in American history first quipped – “people come because I’m a nice guy” – before putting the influx of migrants into perspective. “Every year, there is a significant increase in arrivals at the border in winter”, because migrants “are less likely to die of heat in the desert,” he said, after confiding Wednesday to its vice-president Kamala Harris the management of this extremely sensitive file.
“I’m not going to apologize”
To the Republicans who accuse him of having encouraged a draft by relaxing the migration policy of his predecessor Donald Trump, he retorted sharply: “I will not apologize for having abolished policies violated by international law and human dignity ”. “The crisis at the border is not only seasonal,” replied the leader of the Republican senators Mitch McConnell, recalling that, by the government’s own admission, the southern border was facing an unprecedented influx for 20 years. Entering the White House on January 20, Joe Biden, 78, waited much longer than his direct predecessors to participate in this potentially perilous exercise, held in the prestigious “East Room” with a limited number of journalists due to restrictions sanitary facilities.
And this reluctance of this man known for his blunders, and whose state of health is the subject of recurring questions, had fueled the attacks of some of his opponents who mock a president overprotected by his teams. For an hour, Joe Biden seemed on Thursday to master his files, without making a major announcement but trying to hammer home his priorities, while several crises have thwarted in recent days his communication focused on the economic aid plan very popular with opinion. Two successive murderous shootings, in Georgia and then in Colorado, shook America. If the president called on elected officials to act, calling in particular for the ban on assault rifles, this sequence highlighted the limited room for maneuver of Democrats in Congress where they have only narrow majorities. In front of the press, he called on the Republicans to work with the Democrats rather than choosing the “division”.
Withdrawal from Afghanistan “difficult”
While he is often portrayed as the president of a single term, he assured that he planned to “stand” for his “re-election” in 2024, still with Kamala Harris, the first woman to become vice-president. presidency, as running mate. “I have never been able to plan with certainty four and a half, three and a half years in advance,” he however qualified, joking about his arrival in the Senate “120 years ago” to make fun of the concerns. on his age. The president of the world’s leading power was also expected on the diplomatic front. Without revealing his final decision, he hinted that he would not meet the May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of all American forces from Afghanistan, negotiated by Donald Trump with the Taliban.
But “it is not my intention to stay there long,” he added, deeming it unlikely that there will be US troops left there next year. To North Korea, which has just fired two ballistic missiles, he warned: “There will be answers if they choose escalation,” he warned. He said he was ready “for a certain form of diplomacy” with Pyongyang, “but subject to the condition of denuclearization”. And he reaffirmed that he did not want a “confrontation” with China, but rather “a tough competition”, a week after a very muscular first exchange between his team and the heads of Chinese diplomacy.