White House officials were expecting a split screen moment this week as President Joe Biden met world leaders in Bali at the same moment as his predecessor was expected to announce a third presidential run.
But the dynamic has only been amplified as Biden convenes emergency talks with world leaders about explosions in Poland the same hour Trump loyalists fill the Mar-a-Lago ballroom for the former president’s announcement.
Biden was leading the crisis talks with members of the G7 and NATO in Bali — two groupings Trump questioned the usefulness of when he was in office.
“There was total unanimity among the folks at the table,” Biden said emerging from the talks. Less than 10 minutes later, Trump walked into stage at Mar-a-Lago.
Heading into the trip, Biden’s advisers were not particularly concerned about the split-screen — and after Democrats’ election success were even less wary of Trump announcing a third bid for president while Biden was in Asia.
For one, Biden officials are happy to take the comparison between the current president and the former on the foreign stage, given the general chaos that often trailed Trump as he traveled abroad.
Trump’s announcement will surely prompt renewed attention on Biden’s on decision-making on running for reelection. By all accounts, including from his closest advisers, Biden will feel more propelled to seek a second term if Trump is in contention.
But, for Biden, the timing could not have been more opportune. The prospect of a midterm wipeout loomed over preparations for his around-the-world trip over the last several weeks. Widespread Republican wins — including by election deniers — would badly complicate the president’s bedrock message that Democracies will win out against autocracies.
Trump’s tease of a campaign announcement at the very moment Biden would be rallying the world behind democratic ideals only elevated the stakes.