Vladimir Putin Call Gives Joe Biden Chance to Shake Off 'Weak' Image

President Joe Biden has a chance to shift the U.S. public's view of him as a weak leader as he speaks with Russia's Vladimir Putin in a high-stakes call.

The two leaders will hold a video call on Tuesday, December 7 and the prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine will be front and center of discussions.

Biden is set to tell Putin he will face the toughest economic sanctions from the U.S. yet if Russia does invade Ukraine, according to Reuters. Russia denies that it plans to invade, and Biden also does not want to go to war over Ukraine.

The U.S. president has said he expects a "long discussion" with his Russian counterpart while insisting he will not accept any "red lines" from Putin.

While there has been firm talk ahead of the call, how Russia will react to Biden's comments to Putin remains to be seen.

But the commander-in-chief will want Putin to take him at his word, and Biden may also hope that a resolute stance will move public opinion of him in an area where he is currently struggling.

In The Economist/YouGov polling carried November 27 to 30, respondents were asked: "Would you say Joe Biden is a strong or a weak leader?"

A clear majority of those said they thought he was weak, with 21 percent opting for somewhat and 39 percent very.

The poll questions were put to 1,500 U.S. adults, and the results had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll, conducted November 13 to 15 from a weighted sample of 1,998 registered voters, asked respondents to state whether they agreed or disagreed with a number of statements, one of which was: "Joe Biden is a strong leader."

A plurality of those asked, 43 percent, said they strongly disagree, while 13 percent said they somewhat disagree.

The poll, which had a margin of error of two percentage points in either direction, also showed a slight majority, 51 percent, disapproving of how Biden is handling foreign policy; 12 percent somewhat and 39 percent strongly.

These perceptions of Biden come as his overall approval rating sinks. A 538 tracker, which takes an average of the polls, puts Biden's current approval rating at 42.7 percent versus a disapproval rating of 50.9 percent.

With the focus now on his Putin call, interpretation of Biden's handling of it have the potential to move the dial on views of his strength or weakness as a leader.

A senior administration official said at a press briefing that the president will "make clear that there will be very real costs should Russia choose to proceed, but he will also make clear that there is an effective way forward with respect to diplomacy."

"Fundamentally, President Biden has been consistent all along in his basic message to the Russian President and the Russian Federation: The United States does not seek conflict," the official said.

"We can work together on issues like strategic stability and arms control. But whenever necessary, the United States has and will continue to impose meaningful consequences for harmful and destabilizing actions."

The president will "raise our concerns with Russia's military buildup and plans, with respect to Ukraine."

They added: "The agenda will also cover a number of other critical issues including strategic stability, cyber, and Iran's nuclear program."

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment on polling suggesting the public perceives him as weak.

joe biden from east room
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the Build Back Better legislation's new rules around prescription drug prices in the East Room of the White House on December 06, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images