The “apology tour” is back on the road.
President Biden told the nations of the world Friday he regretted that former President Donald Trump had pulled the US out of a landmark emissions reduction pact — hours after making a series of gaffes while leaving the White House for the trip.
“We immediately rejoined the Paris agreement,” Biden said in a Veterans Day speech at the COP27 global warming conference in Egypt’s Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.
“I apologize we ever pulled out of the agreement,” the president added.
Trump formally withdrew the US from the Paris agreement in November 2020 — about two months before Biden took office — after saying he would do so in 2017 because “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
It can be politically problematic for US presidents to apologize abroad for the acts of their predecessors. Republicans regularly bashed former President Barack Obama for his remarks abroad after anti-US sentiment grew during the Iraq War.
Biden, who turns 80 on Nov. 20, arrived in Egypt after a series of gaffes on the White House lawn as he departed for the trip late Thursday.
Asked by a reporter whether he was hopeful the Russia-Ukraine war would end soon, the president mixed up “Russia” and “Ukraine,” “Colombia” and “Cambodia” and said incorrectly that he was visiting “Cairo” in Egypt rather than Sharm el-Sheikh, about 300 miles away.
“I don’t think the conflict will be resolved with Russia and Ukraine until Ukraine gets out of — until Putin gets out of Ukraine,” Biden said on the lawn. “Anyway, you guys, I’m heading down to — first of all, going to Cairo for the environmental effort, then heading over to Colombia and then — I mean, Cambodia. I was thinking — I’m thinking the Western Hemisphere.”
Biden already is the oldest-ever president and his mental acuity is regularly a topic of political debate. On Wednesday, Biden left a post-midterm election press conference earlier than planned moments after he mistakenly referred to a Russian troop pullout from “Fallujah,” a city in Iraq, when he meant to say “Kherson” in Ukraine. Biden had said he would call on 10 reporters to ask questions but left after calling on just nine following the embarrassing stumble.
Biden stuck closely to his script at the COP27 summit, where he warned of “climate hell” if the world didn’t act to move away from the use of fuels that produce greenhouse gases.
Biden touted this year’s $437 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $7,500 in tax credits for buyers of new electric cars and another environmental spending, as well as last year’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, which included $7.5 billion to build a national network of electric vehicle charging stations.
Biden also touted a previously announced $2 billion US pledge to build solar power in oil-rich Angola, despite the notoriously corrupt nation joining OPEC+’s pre-midterm elections snub of Biden by slashing production.
“One of the many projects already underway is a partnership between American firms and the government of Angola to invest $2 billion building new solar projects in Angola,” Biden said. “And everywhere, like everywhere in the world, climate adaptation in Africa is working toward energy transmission that just, means creating good jobs, spurring inclusive economic growth, and leaving no one behind.”