Biden touts US response to Ukraine invasion at Javelin factory tour as midterms loom

President Biden visited a Javelin missile factory in rural Alabama on Tuesday as he touted his efforts to help Ukraine fend off Russian invaders. The trip allowed him to zero in on a stronghold amid a series of domestic crises threatening Democratic candidates in November’s midterm elections.

Biden visited a Lockheed Martin facility in Troy, where workers assemble the man-portable anti-tank missile that has topped Ukraine’s wish list since the Kremlin invaded on February 24. In March Ukraine said it needs 500 Javelin missiles every day.

Biden said Javelin missiles have been so effective against Russian tanks that parents in Ukraine are calling their newborn children “Javelin” or “Javelina.”

“Much of the reason [Ukrainians] to have been able to continue fighting and make this war a strategic failure for Russia is because the United States, along with allies and partners, stand behind us,” he told workers in brief remarks. “The United States alone has allocated 5,500 javelins to Ukraine. You are changing the nation, you really are.”

The president, who has received broad bipartisan support for his response to the Ukraine crisis, noted that the US has sent more than $3 billion in aid to Ukraine, calling it “a direct investment in defense of freedom and democracy”.

While the visit allowed him to highlight a strength of his presidency so far, political strategists warn that focusing on Ukraine won’t help Democrats much as voters worry about record inflation and supply chain bottlenecks. supply.

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“Pocket issues are clearly the biggest,” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist. “I think this is an area where the president has done well and anything that makes him look good is good for the Democrats, but there is no question that pocketbook issues are more important than what is happening in Ukraine. ”.

At the start of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, voters gave Biden high marks for his response, but it wasn’t enough to lift his overall approval ratings, which remain stuck in the low 40s.

In March, 52% of voters approved of his handling of the Ukraine crisis even as his overall rating remained stagnant, according to an NPR/Marist poll.

However, Biden’s approval rating for his handling of Ukraine fell to 44%, according to an updated NPR/Marist poll released this week.

Emphasizing foreign affairs issues in midterm elections can be difficult to pull off, especially when the US is not directly involved or has troops committed, Republican strategist Jimmy Keady said.

“When people buy gasoline and think about how much they are paying, looking for skyrocketing inflation and regular goods, they are not thinking about Ukraine,” he said.

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