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In Munich, Harris Aims to Reassure European Allies as Trump Disparages NATO

U.S.In Munich, Harris Aims to Reassure European Allies as Trump Disparages NATO

As Air Force Two taxied for takeoff bound for Germany, Vice President Kamala Harris made her way through the plane handing out heart-shaped Valentine’s Day cookies. It was good practice for her trip to the Munich Security Conference, where her mission will be to reassure European allies that America still loves them.

Arriving in Munich even as House Republicans block military aid to Ukraine and former President Donald J. Trump vows to encourage Russia to attack “delinquent” NATO allies, Ms. Harris has the unenviable task of telling European leaders not to worry too much about those things. And she faces the challenge of making the case that Mr. Trump and his backers are wrong about the value of alliances.

While the meetings she and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will have in Munich will be aimed at calming European leaders, the speech she will deliver to the conference on Friday will be aimed as much at the American audience back home. Without mentioning Mr. Trump by name, officials said, she plans to use the platform to forcefully rebut the former president who is aiming to reclaim his old job, arguing that international partnerships are critical to American security, not a burden to be lightly discarded.

It will also be a chance for her to prove herself on the world stage in an election year in which her running mate, President Biden, faces questions about his age. While no one in the White House would say this too openly, Ms. Harris’s challenge in the campaign is to demonstrate that she is up to the job so that voters will not worry about re-electing an 81-year-old president who would be 86 at the end of a second term.

“I am ready to serve. There’s no question about that,” Ms. Harris told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published this week. Anyone who interacts with her, she said, “walks away fully aware of my capacity to lead.”

Munich has been a favored platform for Ms. Harris to try to showcase that for years. In 2022, she spoke just days before Russia invaded Ukraine, calling it a “defining moment” for the world. Last year, she used the conference to accuse Russia of “crimes against humanity” in Ukraine, raising the diplomatic stakes of the war.

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