Election 2024 Candidate Tracker
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The 2024 Candidates on Foreign Policy

Our guide to the presidential candidates and their positions on global issues.
Last Updated: July 17, 2024

The 2024 Presidential Candidates

Photo of Joe Biden

Joe Biden

(D)

President Joe Biden is seeking reelection while contending with several foreign policy issues, including wars in Ukraine and Gaza, surging immigration, tensions with China, and economic challenges at home and abroad.

Photo of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

(R)

Former President Donald Trump is vying for another term to continue his “America First” policies, which offer a marked departure from previous Democratic and Republican presidential administrations.

The rapid ascent of artificial intelligence (AI) has led analysts to predict the beginning of a new era in geopolitics. Meanwhile, TikTok and other foreign technology companies continue to cause concern among policymakers who fear they constitute a threat to national security.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Biden has framed support for the U.S. technology sector as a matter of national security, even as he has sought to confront large tech companies for what he sees as unfair market practices. He has overseen initial efforts to create a federal approach to AI governance and taken steps to slow China’s development of advanced technologies.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

As president, Trump unveiled the first national strategies on emerging fields such as AI cybersecurity. He has painted the development of artificial intelligence as an arms race with China while feuding with the U.S. tech giants that are leading the technology’s development.

Strategic competition with China—now one of the world’s two largest economies, alongside the United States—will be one of the most consequential foreign policy challenges confronting the next presidential administration. It will face an increasingly contentious relationship with Beijing on both trade and security issues.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Biden calls China the biggest national security threat to the United States, and he has moved to “de-risk” the U.S. economy from China’s.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Trump has sought to confront China over what he says is a suite of economic abuses. He says aggressive action is required to protect American workers and to reduce the United States’ large bilateral trade deficit.

In recent years, extreme weather events have caused increased damage around the world. As global temperatures continue to rise at an alarming rate, the probability of more-intense drought, excessive rainfall, severe storms, and bigger wildfires, is growing. Experts warn that shifting climate patterns will facilitate the spread of disease and contribute to food and water shortages.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Biden has made addressing climate change a pillar of his presidency, calling climate change “the ultimate threat to humanity.” He has pursued an ambitious agenda, passing the largest bill on clean energy and climate investment in U.S. history, but he has also permitted new fossil fuel projects and overseen record-high oil and gas production.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Trump has repeatedly questioned the science of climate change and expressed doubts about whether human activity is responsible. He has pledged to greatly expand domestic fossil fuel production, overhaul Biden’s clean energy initiatives, and withdraw the United States from major global climate efforts.

American defense strategy has shifted focus to great-power competition with China and Russia after nearly two decades dominated by troop deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. With U.S. military personnel stationed in 178 countries, the role of the military—and of U.S. alliances—has grown increasingly controversial.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Biden is a strong advocate for multilateral cooperation and a longtime champion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He has sought to coordinate responses to rising threats from China and Russia with allies in the Indo-Pacific and Europe.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Trump has been critical of NATO and has threatened to withdraw from the alliance. As president, he significantly increased defense spending and reoriented the United States’ national security and defense strategy to focus on China and Russia.

The health of the U.S. economy is a major factor in the United States’ ability to influence events abroad. It continues to outpace its peers, but many economists point to signs of trouble: debt levels are soaring, inflation remains high, and U.S. firms lag in manufacturing certain advanced technologies.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

The Biden administration says its “Bidenomics” economic policy has three pillars: making massive public investments in energy and infrastructure, growing the middle class, and challenging monopolistic consolidation. 

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

As president, Trump emphasized tax cuts and deregulatory economic policies, which he says spurred growth, innovation, and employment. He says government spending needs “massive cuts” to bring down inflation. 

The COVID-19 pandemic led to sweeping economic and social changes around the world and raised concerns about global preparedness for future large-scale biological or viral threats. The political divides that the pandemic response engendered could now threaten the future of U.S. programs on global health that once operated with strong bipartisan support.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Biden expanded access to testing and treatment for COVID-19, launched a nationwide vaccination campaign, and signed a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package. His administration also rejoined the World Health Organization (WHO) and revoked a controversial policy that blocked U.S. foreign aid from funding any organizations that promote or perform abortions.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Trump oversaw the federal response to the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, authorizing trillions of dollars of economic stimulus and a public-private partnership to develop a vaccine. He withdrew Washington from the WHO and imposed a rule preventing organizations that receive U.S. funds from using any foreign aid money for abortion-related purposes.

The contentious immigration debate has taken center stage in national politics as migration to the U.S.-Mexico border continues to surge, straining local and federal resources. Border security and asylum policy have grown increasingly divisive, and efforts toward comprehensive immigration reform have repeatedly foundered in Congress.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Biden supports comprehensive immigration reform. He has worked to expand asylum and refugee protections, increase the capacity of guest worker visa programs, and address the root causes of migration from Central America. However, he has also restricted asylum access in response to rising migration.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Immigration and border policy remain signature issues for Trump, and the party’s 2024 platform renews his vows to implement a slew of measures to sharply reduce both legal and illegal immigration. This includes building upon actions taken during his first term to drastically reshape asylum, border, and deportation policy.

The Middle East continues to command global attention and pose challenges to the United States as attacks by the Houthi rebel group threaten supply chains and debate continues over how to respond to destabilizing behavior by Iran. Meanwhile, as the war between Israel and Hamas drags on—and as its death toll mounts—the prospect of long-standing peace in the region appears increasingly remote.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has become the focal point of Biden’s Middle East policy. He has proposed a cease-fire and hostage-release deal while renewing calls for a Israel-Saudi Arabia normalization deal and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Trump’s approach to the Middle East has been defined by strong support for Israel and Saudi Arabia, and a confrontational stance toward Iran. He backed away from long-standing bipartisan consensus by saying he wasn’t interested in a separate Palestinian state.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the most destructive war in Europe since World War II, has dramatically heightened tensions between Russia and Western countries, which have imposed a bevy of sanctions on Moscow. The United States and its allies have armed and funded the Ukrainian government, sparking debate in Washington. 

 

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Biden says that the United States will back Ukraine’s defensive efforts against Russia for “as long as it takes” to prevent a Russian victory and the threat it would pose to the rest of Europe. He has directed tens of billions of dollars in financial assistance to Ukraine, imposed sanctions on Russian entities and individuals, and enlarged the U.S. military presence in Europe.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Trump says that he wouldn’t commit to approving additional U.S. aid to Ukraine if reelected. As president, he cultivated warmer relations with Russia, though he also extended sanctions on Moscow over its 2014 annexation of Ukrainian territory and withdrew from a major U.S.-Russia arms control treaty.

For decades, the United States led the charge for global trade liberalization, driven by the belief that open, rules-based markets boost prosperity and expand Washington’s influence. In recent years, rising income inequality, an increasingly assertive China, and the decline of the U.S. industrial base have led to growing skepticism about this model within both major parties.

 

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Biden has overseen the creation of massive subsidy programs for infrastructure and technology that he says promote American manufacturing jobs, protect U.S. national security, and address climate change. He has also maintained tariffs on China while introducing several new restrictions as part of his campaign to “de-risk” U.S. trade.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Trump argues that the global trading system is rigged against U.S. interests and responsible for large trade deficits, declining U.S. manufacturing, and the offshoring of American jobs. The 2024 party platform promises to return the United States to the “manufacturing superpower of the world” through “rebalancing trade” towards domestic production.