President Biden on Friday tried to coax reporters to jump into the ocean at a seaside photo op in England, snidely joking, “everybody in the water” on the opening day of the annual G7 summit, which is expected to focus on plans for a global 15 percent tax as well as responses to COVID-19, global warming and cybercrime.
Biden made the crack as he and first lady Jill Biden stood on a raised platform on a Cornish beach with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie Johnson.
The 78-year-old Biden is known for his dry and sometimes confounding attempts at humor that can come off as non-too-subtle digs at the press, such as last month telling a reporter they could ask him about the Israel-Hamas conflict, but only if they stood in front of a pickup truck as he stepped on the gas.
Biden’s British hosts played along, with Carrie Johnson laughing and the prime minister seeming to say he’d already gone for a dip. But Twitter users reacted with confusion.
“You first…,” wrote one Twitter user.
“Seaside comedy isn’t what it used to be,” wrote another.
Reporters sought to wring out some news from Biden afterward, asking what his message is for Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of next week’s meeting in Geneva. “I’ll tell you after I deliver it,” he replied.
Biden also posed for a photo with a larger group of leaders attending the G7, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Johnson served as photography director, telling his guests, “Okay, here we are, folks — right. Everybody here? All right, we’ve got it.”
After the larger group photo op, Macron put his arm across Biden’s back and talked as they walked away. The content of their remarks was inaudible to reporters.
The G7 is a group of economically powerful democracies and includes the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
Biden has presented his first foreign trip as president as an opportunity to reset relationships with longtime US allies after former President Donald Trump roiled some relationships with his “America first” policy that sought to rework trade deals to benefit the US and increase allies’ contribution to their own military defense.
Biden sought to charm Johnson during a Thursday meeting, flattering his new 33-year-old wife and presenting him with a new bicycle as they inked a reworked version of the 1941 Atlantic Charter, with the new document committing the two countries to prioritize the fight against global warming in policymaking.