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A reporter for NBC News grilled White House communications director Kate Bedingfield over whether or not President Biden is “living up” to one of his most prominent campaign promises.
During the 2020 presidential election, Biden repeatedly condemned then-President Trump for his bombastic rhetoric that could result in negative consequences, arguing that the words of a president “matter” and suggesting he would be more disciplined as the commander in chief.
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Following a string of statements Biden made that the White House had to walk back, NBC News correspondent Mike Memoli pressed Bedingfield at Tuesday’s press briefing about Biden’s explosive comment from Saturday’s speech in Poland saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power,” which the president himself addressed during Monday’s press conference.
“Obviously yesterday, he tried to suggest that there was a distinction between his personal views of what he thought was a moral outrage versus an official policy position on the part of the United States, but you know full well, something that candidate Joe Biden said virtually every day on the campaign trail, which is that the words of a president matter, that they can, as he often put it, lead a country into war, “Memoli said. “Is he not living up to the standard that he set himself during the campaign?”
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“Absolutely not,” Bedingfield responded. “I think the words of the president here were incredibly powerful. He spoke personally about the moral outrage that he felt, which is shared by people all across the world. It does not mean he’s articulating a change in policy. It does not mean he’s laying out a change in US policy. ”
“He met with refugees… and saw firsthand some of the pain that Vladimir Putin has inflicted on people who are fleeing their homes and who are seeing their country war-torn. So this was an incredibly personal, powerful statement of moral outrage. It was not an articulation of a new US policy. And I think both of those things can be in our true, “Bedingfield added.
Menoli then followed, “Is he frustrated? Or does he regret that those were not at the very end of the speech overshadowed a larger message which obviously took a lot of thought into the days leading up to it?”
“Absolutely not,” Bedingfield answered. “He spoke from the heart. He, as he always does, as you know very well from having covered him for a long time, as many of you do- and as the American people know, he speaks from the heart. He says what he feels and no, he absolutely does not regret that in any way. “
While the president was defiant with reporters on Monday insisting he hasn’t walked back any of his comments, the White House seemed to be doing damage control following his speech in Poland when he generated international headlines for suggesting a regime change in Russia.
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“The president’s point was that Putin could not be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change,” the White House stated shortly after Biden’s address.
On Thursday, he suggested that the US would retaliate “in kind” if Russia launched a chemical attack on Ukraine. The White House issued a statement that the US “has no intention of using chemical weapons, period, under any circumstances.” Then on Friday, while speaking to American troops stationed in Poland, Biden suggested they would be sent to Ukraine as he was describing what they would witness on the ground. The White House issued a statement saying, “The president has been clear we are not sending US troops to Ukraine and there is no change in that position.”