The White House is trying to regain control of the narrative on Afghanistan by making more public appearances for President Biden and highlighting how evacuations have increased significantly over the past week.
White House seeks to regain control over Afghanistan
As of Tuesday, Biden had delivered three speeches in five days on the evacuation efforts and answered questions from reporters twice. White House press conferences resumed this week after a brief hiatus, with national security adviser Jake Sullivan appearing alongside press secretary Jen Psakilos.
Daily, and sometimes twice a day, the White House has sent updates to reporters on the number of people evacuated from Afghanistan, with the highest count in a 24-hour period recorded Monday when U.S. military flights carried 12,700 people.
The full-court press comes as Biden has endured harsh criticism, including from some Democrats, for how his administration has handled the Afghanistan withdrawal.
The president spent the early days of the withdrawal after Kabul fell to the Taliban at Camp David, drawing criticism for his absence in Washington at a crucial time.
The widespread impression last week was also that Biden officials were surprised by the speed at which the Taliban overran the war-torn country.
The first six months of the Biden administration were largely defined by a projection of White House competence, as career officials worked to clearly communicate the administration’s guidance on the pandemic, work together with Congress to pass an economic stimulus package and regain Washington norms as bipartisan. meetings and daily press briefings that were discarded under President Trump.
Afghanistan threatened to break that trust and had raised concerns in Democratic circles.