Ukraine crisis looms over Biden’s State of the Union

Morning In America

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The eyes of the world will be on President Joe Biden as he delivers the State of the Union address Tuesday as the war between Ukraine and Russia rages on.

“No longer is this a domestic political audience of his party and then a few persuadable voters. He’s now speaking to the world,” NewsNation’s Leland Vittert said on “Morning in America.” “You better believe that all night tonight Vladimir Putin is going to be up in Moscow watching, as are everybody in Ukraine, as are the leaders in the capitals of the NATO countries.”

The speech Tuesday night had initially been conceived by the White House as an opportunity to highlight the improving coronavirus outlook and rebrand Biden’s domestic policy priorities as a way to lower costs for families grappling with soaring inflation. But it has taken on new significance with last week’s Russian invasion of Ukraine and nuclear saber-rattling by Vladimir Putin.

Biden’s speech comes as the commander-in-chief and his party are losing voter support to the GOP during a critical election year, according to a new NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll.

Nearly 88 percent of respondents to the NewsNation poll said they were concerned about inflation, with 55 percent saying it is a bigger concern than COVID-19 and unemployment. This is a stark upending of sentiment since January, when respondents of the NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic remained top of mind.

“Another part of that NewsNation Poll, 80% of Americans say inflation is a big concern of theirs. It’s the number one issue on Americans minds,” Vittert said. “So this is a president who can’t come in and say all is well, ‘The State of the Union is strong, here’s all of my great policy proposals.’ Expect President Biden to in one way or another acknowledge the issues that America is facing.”

Biden would speak to “the importance of the United States as a leader in the world, standing up for values, standing up for global norms, but also the efforts that he has undertaken to mitigate how it will impact people here,” press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

Vittert said that he expects Biden to appeal to Americans but empathize with them and level with them over frustrations with the economy and worries over Ukraine.

“Let Americans know that he feels their pain. He feels their sense of unease, both about the economy, which he will talk about how he wants to fix and acknowledge that inflation is real, because that’s what people need to hear that their president feels that. But also try to reassure them that this crisis in Ukraine and for the first time in my memory of a president being asked about nuclear war is something that he has handled.”

You can read the full NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll here.

How to watch the State of the Union address

Biden will give his State of the Union address Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET followed by the GOP response by Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-Iowa) and U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s progressive response on behalf of left-wing group Working Families Party.

NewsNation will air the full State of the Union and responses on-air and online followed by an analysis by NewsNation’s Leland Vittert, Marni Hughes and a host of experts. To learn how you can watch all our coverage, use our channel finder.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

Watch “On Balance with Leland Vittert” weeknights at 7/6C.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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