The war in Ukraine ushers in a more pragmatic policy at home


WASHINGTON — If it’s Wednesday … The Russian invasion of Ukraine enters Day 14. … Vice President Harris visits Poland as the United States rejects Poland’s offer for fighter jets to Ukraine. … President Biden is hosting a competitiveness event at the White House. … Fox News is releasing new polls on the major GOP primaries in Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. …and a jury finds the January 6 rioter guilty on all counts.

But first: pragmatism is in, while being a true believer is out.

It is a consequence of the two-week war in Ukraine, including here in the United States. Consider these moving parts:

  • In announce the ban on Russian oil imports, Biden bragged about the record level of domestic oil and gas production in the United States – while saying he was still focused on clean energy investments.
  • Faced with record gas prices, the United States began give a hand in oil-rich Venezuela (and the country published at least two Americans imprisoned).
  • Ditto for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. (After the Wall Street Journal reported that the leaders of these countries decreases calls with the U.S., U.S./Saudi/Emirati sources told NBC News they rejected the characterization of this story.)
  • And the Democratic Socialists of America, whose influence in progressive circles is growing, are face a backlash for calling for withdrawal from NATO.

So an energy policy, all of the above, a return to realpolitik, a rallying around the flag and NATO, it’s a different political environment than what existed just a month ago.

At least for now.

And it begs this question: Can Biden, who campaigned on pragmatism in 2019-20, capitalize on that patriotism and pragmatic new political environment?

Even as the opposition party – the GOP – calls for pragmatism but tries to score political points against the White House?

Example: “Republicans applaud Russian oil ban and mock Biden for rising gas prices.”

Data download: Today’s figure is… $13.6 billion

That’s the final amount of Ukrainian aid Congress is seeking to pass, according to NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell. It’s a figure that represents a dramatic increase from the $6.4 billion originally requested by the Biden administration.

The aid will be part of the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill that congressional leaders are working to pass before Friday’s deadline.

Other numbers you need to know today:

107: How many years have passed since the ship Endurance, finally found off the coast of Antarctica, was lost after sinking?

1: How many states currently have a mask mandate – Hawaii. Governor David Ige announced that he would let that term expire on March 25.

79 545 412: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 31,817 more since yesterday morning.)

966 280: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,433 more since yesterday morning.)

Tweet of the day

Mid-term review

Fox News published a wave of polls Tuesday night focused on the disputed GOP Senate and gubernatorial primaries.

In Pennsylvania, former hedge fund manager David McCormick leads the GOP Senate estate at 24% among GOP primary voters, followed by famed doctor Mehmet Oz at 15%, former lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos and conservative activist Kathy Barnette at 9%, and former ambassador Carla Sands at 6%. Almost a third of respondents – 31% – are undecided.

The GOP primary for governor is even more crowded — with 25% undecided. Representative Lou Barletta receives support from 19% of those polled, followed by State Senator Doug Mastriano at 18%, former City Councilman Dave White at 14% and attorney Bill McSwain at 11%.

In Georgia, GOP Governor Brian Kemp enjoys an 11-point lead, 50% to 39%, on former Sen. David Perdue, who has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. Ten percent were undecided. Former football star Herschel Walker holds a sizable lead in the GOP Senate primary, garnering support from 66% of those polled, with Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black at 8%.

And in the Ohio Senate Primary, investment banker Mike Gibbons is at 22%, followed by former state treasurer Josh Mandel at 20%. JD Vance follows with 11%, while former GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken gets 9% and Senator Matt Dolan 7%.

The polls had margins of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Nevada Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto dropped her first TV commercials, touting her role in providing pandemic relief.

Former North Carolina GOP Governor Pat McCrory hits the airwaves ahead of May’s Senate primary with an advertisement hitting on Trump-backed GOP Rep. Ted Budd’s comments about Putin. McCrory’s campaign spends $111,000 on Fox News airtime, per AdImpact. (Politico came out with a new story on how Budd struggled to defeat McCrory.)

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., approved State Rep. Jasmine Crockett in the Texas 30th District primary runoff.

And former President Donald Trump held a fundraiser for Matthew DePernohis pick in the Michigan attorney general’s race.

Ad Watch: All in the running for a special mention

Former President Donald Trump endorsed more than 100 candidates at all levels of power in this year’s midterm elections. But there are still candidates across the country vying for his endorsement, especially in some key races.

Trump has yet to endorse the Republican Senate primaries in Ohio and Missouri. He also did not endorse any of the current candidates for governor or the Pennsylvania Senate.

Now, outside groups in all three states are highlighting candidates’ connections to Trump, in hopes that closeness (or perceived closeness) to the former president could sway voters.

In Missouri, save Missouri values strong points “America-first conservative” Eric Schmitt alongside a photo of Schmitt with Trump. In Ohio, a local GOP chairman tells viewers, “You’re going to have a real conservative Trump…in Jane Timken,” in an advertisement published by WFW Action Fund. And, in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Leaders Fund strong points Bill McSwain’s time as ‘Trump’s US Attorney’, while featuring a photo of the two men together.

And, in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Leaders Fund strong points gubernatorial candidate Bill McSwain’s time as “Trump’s U.S. Attorney,” while featuring a photo of the two men together.

ICYMI: What else is going on in the world?

NBC is looking at the administration’s change in messaging on gasoline prices.

President Biden issues an executive order calling on the government to take a closer look at cryptocurrency.

A dual citizen has been accused of acting as a Russian agent in the United States

Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford raises concerns over domestic violence allegations against the administration’s choice to lead the immigration and customs services.

The invasion of Ukraine retraumatizes Holocaust survivors in New York’s Little Odessa.

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