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Ex-NATO chief: Dems opposing tough border policy need to ‘come to their senses’

A former NATO secretary general says President Biden must make the border a "non-issue" and Democrats opposing strict policy must "come to their senses."

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former secretary general of NATO, urged Democrats that President Biden must make the border a “non-issue” for Republicans as he campaigns ahead of the 2024 election, warning that the immigration crisis left unchecked “will fuel extremists” on both sides of the aisle. 

“If I were asked by Democrats what to do, my advice would be to accommodate Republican views on the border issue and create a package with four elements: support for Ukraine, support for Israel, support for Taiwan and solve the border issue,” Rasmussen, who led NATO from 2009 to 2014, told Politico in an interview published Wednesday. 

“President Biden has an interest in solving that issue before the election campaign starts in earnest,” he added. 


Rasmussen, a former prime minister of Denmark who governed from the right of center, highlighted how European governments that have failed to mitigate migration felt the consequences at the polls, urging that Democrats opposing tougher border policy should “come to their senses.” 

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Specifically, he pointed to November’s elections in the Netherlands, where the center-right government faltered to a far-right rise in political power largely due to the immigration issue. 

“If I were in the leadership of the Democratic campaign, I would not hesitate to close this issue — to accommodate Republicans to make it a non-issue in the coming election campaign,” he said, acknowledging how the border crisis brings political vulnerability for Democrats ahead of the election. 

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“If you do not address the immigration issue and the border issue effectively, then you will fuel extremists … On both sides of the political spectrum,” said Rasmussen, who spoke to Politico during a recent visit to Washington, D.C., where he intended to meet with the House Freedom Caucus to convince them on further Ukraine aid. 

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As Republicans have resisted calls from Democrats for billions more in support for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan without a deal on the border, Rasmussen argued that failing to provide further U.S. support for the Kyiv forces nearly two years after Russia’s full-scale February 2022 invasion “would be the withdrawal from Afghanistan on steroids.” He said he expected to counter Republicans’ argument that the U.S. is shouldering too much of the war effort by noting that Europeans spent $59 billion in Ukraine aid compared to the $48 billion supplied by the U.S. 

“It’s not true when they are arguing that Europeans do not step up to the plate and do not share a fair burden of support for Ukraine,” Rasmussen said. 

“I’m not a liberal in the American sense of the word,” he said, recommending House Freedom Caucus members read his 1993 book, “From Social State to Minimal State.” “I think I’m one of the most pro-American European politicians.”

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Speaking a day after former President Trump swept the Iowa caucuses, Rasmussen also expressed hope former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley would see a New Hampshire revival. 

Saying Haley is “very much in line with my thinking about world affairs,” he argued that the former South Carolina governor’s momentum in the 2024 race demonstrates how “in the Republican Party — despite Trumpism — there is a classical Republican sentiment that I think Trump should take into account.”

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