A defiant Biden defends his first year and promises to connect with his voters

US President Joe Biden tried on Wednesday to reset his administration by advocating reconnecting with voters in his second year in office and touting unprecedented successes but stumbling over a response to the crisis in Ukraine.

“Can you think of any president who has done so much in a year?” Biden asked at a lengthy news conference, recounting the fight against covid-19 and the millions of dollars of government funding to save the economy. .

“I don’t think there’s ever been as much on an incoming president’s plate as big as the menu that was served to me,” the Democrat said. “The reality is that a lot has been done.”

Since the night of the anniversary of his inauguration on January 20, 2021, this is Biden’s second press conference of his presidency, in which he surprised by taking questions for almost two hours.

Sometimes combative, jocular, and rambling on his administration, Biden pushed back against criticism of his handling of the pandemic and rising inflation.

Asked about his approval ratings, which sank to 40%, Biden was curt: “I don’t believe in the polls,” he said.

The president acknowledged the mistakes of his first 12 months in office where he had “challenges” but also “enormous progress” and said he did not foresee such a strong Republican obstruction against his government.

Regarding the capabilities to test in the midst of the pandemic, he said that “we should have done it faster”, although he praised the advances in vaccination.

“We went from two million people vaccinated at the time I was sworn in to 210 million fully vaccinated Americans today,” he explained.

Biden also said he understood “frustration” at rising prices and blamed inflation on supply chain problems stemming from the pandemic.

Bringing inflation to a reasonable level, currently at its highest level in almost 40 years, “will be difficult,” he insisted, predicting that “until then, it will be painful for many people.”

– Tensions –

On one of the most traumatic episodes of his administration, the withdrawal from the 20-year war in Afghanistan, Biden said flatly: “I do not apologize.”

“There was no easy way out of Afghanistan,” he said.

But the news conference focused especially on the looming crisis in Ukraine, where the United States is leading Western efforts to find a diplomatic solution to Russia’s military posture on the border.

Biden said he was ready to meet Putin and warned that Russia would pay a heavy price if it decided to invade Ukraine.

“It’s going to be a disaster for Russia,” Biden said, adding that the Russians might eventually prevail, but their losses “are going to be big.”

However, Biden caused confusion when he seemed to suggest that a small-scale attack by Russia would have a less strong reaction from the West.

The White House quickly issued a statement clarifying that what it meant was that any military invasion would provoke a “severe” response, while non-military aggression, such as paramilitary attacks, would receive a “reciprocal” response.

– Leaving the White House –

With the State of the Union address to Congress scheduled for March 1, Biden may devise a strategy to fight a Republican return to control of Congress in the November midterm elections.

The Republicans are predicted to crush the Democratic Party and take control of the legislature. That would risk two years of outright obstruction by Congress, likely including threats of impeachment and a series of aggressive investigations.

Trump, who without presenting evidence insists he won the 2020 presidential election and seeks to undermine Americans’ faith in his electoral system, is considering running for president again in 2024.

Biden confirmed that he wants to seek reelection with Kamala Harris as his vice president again. And he said Democrats weren’t able to use their slim majority in Congress to pass his two biggest priorities – the Build Back Better social spending bill and election law reforms – but could pass “big parts” of those frustrated projects

He emphasized that he wants to leave the White House to tour the country.

“Number one: I’m going to get out of this place more often. I’m going to get out there and talk to the public,” he said.

“I find myself in a situation where I don’t get a chance to look people in the eye, both because of Covid and because of the situation in Washington,” he said, describing how he wants to “connect with people and let them gauge my sincerity.” .

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