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Europeans use Nato summit to build contacts with affiliates of Donald Trump

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Europeans use Nato summit to build contacts with affiliates of Donald Trump

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European delegations to a Nato leaders’ summit in Washington this week are holding meetings with foreign policy associates of Donald Trump, as nervousness rises inside the military alliance regarding President Joe Biden’s re-election prospects.

Biden is trailing in the polls and under intense pressure to withdraw from the White House race after a disastrous debate performance last month reignited deep concerns in his party over his age and fitness for office.

Leaders, ministers and senior officials from multiple European governments, particularly from eastern European and Nordic governments, have arranged meetings this week with Trump-related figures such as Keith Kellogg, former chief of staff in the National Security Council, and former secretary of state Mike Pompeo people familiar with the outreach efforts told the Financial Times.

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The meetings are on the sidelines of this week’s Nato summit, which was initially billed as a chance for host Biden to present himself at the head of a united western alliance, but has now become overshadowed by the calls from members of his Democratic party for him to abandon his re-election campaign.

Trump, an outspoken Nato critic, has spooked many European capitals with remarks suggesting that if he were to win back the White House in November the US might not defend all its Nato allies. He has also raised the possibility of suspending military aid to Ukraine if Kyiv rejects peace talks with Moscow.

Foreign embassies in Washington have been increasingly focused on building contacts within a potential future Trump administration as the election cycle has heated up. Diplomats are wary of being caught flat-footed after they were surprised by his electoral win in 2016.

“Regardless of what we think about their stance [on Europe], we need to talk to them,” said one of the people briefed on the outreach to Trump affiliates, adding that building contacts before November was now a sensible approach.

Many diplomats and analysts have looked to the America First Policy Institute, a Trump-friendly think-tank where Kellogg co-chairs its security programme, for signals of how Trump might lead in a second term.

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Kellogg told the FT in a statement: “We have had a series of meetings with various prime ministers, national security advisers, ministers of defence, foreign ministers and ambassadors.”

Kellogg and Fred Fleitz recently authored a report outlining an end to the Ukraine war that would pressure Kyiv and Moscow to the negotiating table and made waves in Washington and in European capitals.

In private conversations around the summit, many European officials have voiced exasperation at how the election campaign has overshadowed Nato ambitions for the meeting, especially given their inability to influence a situation that ultimately could have an outsized impact on their future security.

“His future has overshadowed the whole week,” said one senior European diplomat, referring to Biden’s health and candidacy. “It’s a mess.”

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Video: Biden Says It’s Time to ‘Pass the Torch’ to a New Generation

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Video: Biden Says It’s Time to ‘Pass the Torch’ to a New Generation

new video loaded: Biden Says It’s Time to ‘Pass the Torch’ to a New Generation

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Biden Says It’s Time to ‘Pass the Torch’ to a New Generation

Speaking from the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, President Biden defended his record and celebrated the vice president, Kamala Harris, saying it’s time for new, younger voices to lead the country.

You know, in recent weeks, it’s become clear to me that I need to unite my party in this critical endeavor. I believe my record as president, my leadership in the world, my vision for America’s future all merited a second term. But nothing, nothing can come in the way of saving our democracy. And that includes personal ambition. So I’ve decided the best way forward is to pass the torch to a new generation. You know, there is a time and a place for long years of experience in public life. There’s also a time and a place for new voices. Fresh voices. Yes, younger voices. I would like to thank our great vice president, Kamala Harris. She’s experienced. She’s tough. She’s capable. She’s been an incredible partner to me and a leader for our country. Nowhere else on Earth could a kid with a stutter from modest beginnings in Scranton, Pa., and Claymont, Del., one day sit behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office as president of the United States. But here I am. I hope you have some idea how grateful I am to all of you. The great thing about America is here kings and dictators do not rule. The people do. History is in your hands. The power is in your hands. The idea of America lies in your hands. You just have to keep faith. Keep the faith, and remember who we are. We’re the United States of America. And there is simply nothing, nothing beyond our capacity when we do it together. So let’s act together. Preserve our democracy. God bless you all. And may God protect our troops. Thank you.

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Live news: AI demand propels SK Hynix to highest profit in 6 years

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Live news: AI demand propels SK Hynix to highest profit in 6 years
Shoppers crowd Seoul’s Myeongdong district, but analysts expect South Korean domestic spending to deteriorate © Hon Wah Oong/Dreamstime

South Korea’s economy unexpectedly contracted in the second quarter on cooling consumer spending despite stronger exports, increasing expectations of an interest rate cut in the coming months.

Gross domestic product in the April-June quarter shrank 0.2 per cent from a quarter earlier in seasonally adjusted terms, according to the Bank of Korea, while analysts polled by Reuters forecast a 0.1 per cent rise.

This marks the sharpest contraction in six quarters, following 1.3 per cent growth in the first quarter.

Private consumption fell 0.2 per cent and construction spending dropped 1.1 per cent, while exports rose 0.9 per cent.

Capital Economics expects domestic spending to deteriorate, prompting the Bank of Korea to cut interest rates in October, but cautioned that there was an increased chance of a rate cut in August.  

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Will Harris sway PA voters? A Pittsburgh area Democrat and Republican each have a say

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Will Harris sway PA voters? A Pittsburgh area Democrat and Republican each have a say

Left: Kathleen Madonna-Emmerling, Right: John Wink

Nate Smallwood for NPR


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Nate Smallwood for NPR

PITTSBURGH – Kathleen Madonna-Emmerling of Moon Township, a municipality that sits a few miles northwest of Pittsburgh, smiles as a server at local staple Primanti Brothers delivers a sandwich stacked higher than a double AA battery.

The story that locals like Madonna-Emmerling tell is that this Pittsburgh-style sandwich – layered with coleslaw, tomato slices, and French fries – was created so that local blue collar workers could drive large trucks and eat with one hand while on a shift.

The sandwich ties back to her family’s history – and that of many other residents in the area – of working in the steel industry and other blue collar jobs, many of which disappeared long ago. Her father was an auto worker involved in the local union. That led to her now working as a community organizer and “multi-hyphenate” political pot stirrer, she said.

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When there were talks of closing a local school, she protested. She’s president of the library board and fought to keep a LGBTQ book on the shelves. She’s run for public office and trained activists to knock on doors at election time to shore up votes for Democrats.

But selling locals on President Biden at the top of the ticket has proven a struggle. His poor showing at the June debate with former President Donald Trump zapped a lot of energy. Then came the attempted assassination on Trump in nearby Butler, which caused a lot of “whiplash” in this area where many voters don’t adhere strictly to one party or the other.

“People are a little bit checked out. People are very tired. And we’re just trying to say, ‘OK , you’re going to be tired about the top of the ticket, but there’s still work to do,’” Madonna-Emmerling said, noting that some door-knocking efforts were slowed down after the shooting out of respect for Republican voters.

She couldn’t quite see a way forward.

Kathleen Madonna-Emmerling poses for a portrait outside a restaurant in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2024.

Kathleen Madonna-Emmerling poses for a portrait outside a restaurant in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2024.

Nate Smallwood for NPR

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But then came the historic news that Biden was dropping out and making way for Vice President Harris to take his place. While she wasn’t necessarily calling for Biden to drop out, Madonna-Emmerling said she feels like his decision may prove a consequential one in Pennsylvania, which will again prove key to winning the White House.

“It was a literal exhalation, shoulders lowering,” Madonna-Emmerling said. “We’ve stopped the bleeding.”

More and more volunteers, she said, have called her in recent days about voter outreach efforts since Biden’s move.

“Plug in, let’s go,” she told them. “Get on the train. We’re all going together to the top.”

Their involvement in getting more voters to turn out could make all the difference in Moon Township, and other suburbs that surround Pittsburgh, which historically have voted for Republicans.

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Trump won most of Moon Township’s 13 voting precincts in 2016 when he carried the state, according to Allegheny County Election Results data. And though most precincts again went his way in 2020, Democrats and Joe Biden picked up support in the town, when almost 2,000 more people voted. The same happened in small counties across the state, between here and Philadelphia and helped Democrats win the swing state back.

With the vice president now in the race, a new NPR poll found that the presidential race has hit a bit of a reset. Trump and Harris are now statistically tied, and some independent voters now say they are undecided,

Madonna-Emmerling feels that Harris’ campaign has injected new energy into Democrats, and she feels that the vice president’s background as a prosecutor is a winning combination and makes her an “ideal suburban candidate.”

Polling in the immediate aftermath of Biden’s endorsement for Harris shows she has more work to do with suburban voters, but also has more opportunity with folks in these areas who may now be undecided.

“Often in the suburbs, people want someone who is pro-public safety, pro-police,” Madonna-Emmerling said, adding that many in the area have family who are former military now working in law enforcement. “That can be a really hard barrier to overcome sometimes. And when you can say this is a clear case of a prosecutor against a felon, it’s a home run.”

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But across town, a local Republican says, “We’ll see …”

Moon Township’s elected Republican tax collector John Wink, speaking to NPR from his backyard on a slightly muggy afternoon, said he believes the luster of Harris replacing Biden at the top of the ticket will wear off in the coming weeks.

“We’ll see if that lasts,” Wink said. “I think she’s a terrible candidate. When she actually ran for president, she couldn’t get votes.”

John Wink poses for a portrait outside his home in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2024.

John Wink poses for a portrait outside his home in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2024.

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The core issues that Wink said he feels matter most to voters in this part of Pennsylvania – how they are currently experiencing inflation and securing the U.S.-Mexico border – still favor Trump.

Wink, who serves on the GOP’s state committee, has lived in the Pittsburgh area since he was two years old. His father was once mayor of Hampton Township, north of the city. Wink said he started working on campaigns, stuffing envelopes and putting mailers together for candidates, as early as 15 years old.

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And his wife serves on the library board alongside Democrat Madonna-Emmerling.

Residents and voters here are by and large happy with how the town is run, regardless of the party affiliation of those running the local government, he feels. The roads are well maintained and the police force is good, he added.

It’s Pennsylvania’s status as a swing state, closely watched by national politics, that makes living here interesting from a political perspective, Wink said.

“I’m glad Pennsylvania is a swing state, much more interesting than if it was one way or the other,” Wink said. “It’s a whole lot more fun.”

One of his gauges for how elections might go is looking at campaign signs in front yards.

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“I kind of thought Trump was in trouble in 2020 because I was seeing too many Biden signs, much more so than in 2016, where there were very little in the way of Hillary signs,” Wink remembered.

His verdict right now? It’s too early. There aren’t that many signs out yet, Wink said, but he’s still confident Trump will win.

So what are the keys for Trump and Harris here?

Wink said many local Republicans are excited to vote for Trump again, though he said he wished the party had nominated a younger candidate.

He would’ve liked to see Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley be the nominee. But Trump won the primaries, and Wink plans to vote for him.

Moon Township a suburban town in Allegheny County on July 24, 2024.

Moon Township a suburban town in Allegheny County on July 24, 2024.

Nate Smallwood for NPR

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As for whether Moon Township and areas nearby will vote for Trump or Harris, if she becomes the nominee as expected, Wink and Madonna-Emmerling have a similar view.

Families and seniors on fixed incomes here are struggling with the cost of groceries and other costs of living. Under Trump, “things were humming along pretty well,” Wink said, and if Republicans can communicate that message and get their lower-propensity voters to turn out, the election will be theirs.

Madonna-Emmerling thinks voters here will want a candidate to be honest and relatable and Harris fits the bill.

She says people in this community work hard and care about their families and those around them. Speaking authentically to that could motivate those among them who are non-voters to head to the polls.

“Don’t be fake,” Madonna-Emmerling advised. “We have a strong bull**** detector.”

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The audio version of this story was produced by Taylor Haney and edited by Gabriel Spitzer.

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