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Biden’s ‘big boy’ NATO news conference carries high stakes as first presser since disastrous debate

President Biden is slated to face the media late Thursday afternoon in his first solo press conference since his disastrous debate last month, and it’s anticipated that he’ll be grilled as the nation weighs his mental acuity amid heightening health concerns. 

Biden is expected to hold the news conference on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. after hosting NATO leaders in Washington, D.C., this week. The media has dubbed the press conference a ‘big boy press conference,’ with the president fielding questions from the media solo. It marks Biden’s first solo press conference of the year and the first time he will speak to the media at a presser since his debate against former President Trump on June 27, Fox News found.

Biden is facing heightened concerns over his health in the wake of his poor debate performance, which opened floodgates of concern in the Democratic Party that the president’s 81 years of age and alleged slipping mental acuity will cost the party as the Biden campaign squares up against Trump.

At least nine elected Democrats have called on Biden to drop out since the debate, and at least 23 Democrats, including former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Reps. Adam Schiff and Jamie Raskin, have expressed concern over Biden’s performance and re-election effort.

Biden has vowed to remain in the race despite rising concerns and calls for him to drop out and let another candidate take on Trump. 

‘There’s been a lot of speculation: What’s Joe going to do? Is he going to stay in the race? Is he going to drop out? What’s he going to do?’ Biden said Friday in a speech in Madison, Wisconsin. ‘Well, here’s my answer: I am running and going to win again.’

On Wednesday, Pelosi suggested in an interview that Biden should reconsider his vow to remain in the race, adding fuel to the fire of the party’s disarray.

‘It’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run,’ she said. ‘We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running short.’

‘I want him to do whatever he decides to do, and that’s the way it is. Whatever he decides, we go with,’ she added. 

Pelosi said in the interview that she and other Democrats are waiting to see how the week goes for Biden, suggesting that she told fellow Democrats to not speak publicly about their thoughts on Biden until the week concludes.

‘Let’s just hold off,’ she said. ‘Whatever you’re thinking, either tell somebody privately, but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see how we go this week.’

Biden delivered a strong NATO speech on Tuesday afternoon, compared to his disastrous debate performance and repeated gaffes during public events in recent months, but praise for the speech from prominent allies has been few and far between.

The president earned praise on social media from liberal-leaning accounts that said the president delivered a ‘classic’ and ‘strong speech.’ Prominent Democrats, however, overwhelmingly remained silent from publicly remarking on the speech. Fox News Digital reached out to the offices of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Sen. Mark Warner and the White House for comment about whether they view the speech as a success but did not receive replies. 

‘Today, NATO is more powerful than ever,’ Biden said Tuesday evening during his speech. ‘It’s good that we’re stronger than ever because this moment in history calls for our collective strength. Autocrats want to overturn global order, which is, by and large, kept for nearly 80 years and counting. Terrorist groups continue to plot evil schemes, cause mayhem and chaos and suffering in Europe. Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine continues, and Putin wants nothing less than Ukraine’s total subjugation to end Ukraine.’

In addition to the president’s NATO speech on Tuesday, Biden’s schedule is stacked with NATO meetings, dinners, a bilateral meeting with newly minted U.K. Prime Minister Keir Starmer, and a meeting with the nation’s largest federation of trade unions, the AFL-CIO, among other engagements this week. The press conference is the most highly anticipated event on his schedule for members of the media as well as the Democratic Party because it allows the president to directly speak with reporters as questions mount about his health.

Since Biden’s disastrous debate performance, Democrats and the media have repeatedly said that if Biden remains in the race, he needs to hold more interviews and press conferences.

‘The only way for him and the campaign to respond is not by talking to senators or governors, because this is not a tell-me situation. It’s a show-me situation,’ Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vt., told CNN last Wednesday. ‘So he’d have to be out and about in the hurly-burly of a campaign, open-ended press conferences with folks like you, engagements with voters that are unscripted.’

Biden did sit down for an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopolos that aired on July 5, but the interview did not quell mounting concerns over the president’s mental acuity and age, most notably when Biden repeatedly dodged whether he would take a cognitive test.

‘Have you had the specific cognitive tests, and have you had a neurologist, a specialist, do an examination?’ Stephanopoulos asked.

‘No, no one said I had to. … They said I’m good,’ Biden responded.

Stephanopoulos pressed Biden a third time on taking a cognitive or neurological test and whether he would release the results of such a test to the public. The president, however, brushed off the question by saying he is tested every day in his role as president.

‘Look, I have a cognitive test every single day,’ Biden said. ‘Every day I have that test. Everything I do. You know, not only am I campaigning, but I’m running the world. Sounds like hyperbole, but we are the central nation in the world.’

Biden’s public events this week will be crucial for not only his campaign but also for how America is viewed on the world stage, experts previously told Fox News Digital, which might explain why Democrats were not eager to outright praise the president’s NATO speech on Tuesday.

‘This week is pivotal for President Biden not only because of the intense interest in what he will be saying at his press events but also because this summit provides a clear example of restored American global leadership in support of our nation’s defense,’ Joel Rubin, a former State Department official during the Obama administration, previously told Fox News Digital.

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., told Fox News Digital this week that Biden ‘must show the American public that he has the ability to serve out the remainder of this term, let alone a future one’ as the ‘eyes of the world’ watch the NATO summit. 

‘It is on President Biden to show he’s capable and up to the task,’ Lawler said. ‘What we’ve seen in recent weeks doesn’t cut it.’

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said this week that reporters can expect to ask the president questions during the presser at the end of the NATO summit.

‘You can expect a solo press conference from this president at the end of … the NATO summit. He’s looking forward to it. And he will be taking your questions. So, that’ll be a good thing,’ Jean-Pierre said on Monday.

Fox News Digital’s Peter Aitken and Hanna Panreck contributed to this article.

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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