- The Washington Times
Tuesday, May 3, 2022

President Biden toured a Javelin missile factory in rural Alabama on Tuesday as he touted his efforts to help Ukraine as it fends off Russian invaders. The trip allowed him to focus on a strength amid a string of domestic crises threatening Democratic candidates in November’s midterm elections.

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

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

“A big part of the reason [Ukrainians] have been able to keep up fighting and make this war a strategic failure for Russia is because the United States, together with allies and partners, have their back,” he told the workers in brief remarks. “The United States alone has committed 5,500 javelins to Ukraine. You’re changing the nation, you really are.”

The president, who has received widespread bipartisan support for his response to the Ukraine crisis, pointed out that the U.S. has sent more than $3 billion in aid to Ukraine, which he called “a direct investment in defending freedom and democracy.”

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

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

At the start of the Kremlin’s Ukraine invasion, voters gave Mr. Biden high marks for his response, but it wasn’t enough to lift his overall approval ratings, which remain mired 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, Mr. Biden’s approval rating on his handling of Ukraine dropped to 44%, according to an updated NPR/Marist poll released this week.

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

“When people are buying gas and thinking about how much they are paying, seeking skyrocketing inflation and regular goods, they aren’t thinking about Ukraine,” he said.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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