Joe Biden appeared to read his teleprompter instructions during his Oval Office address on Thursday evening, reading out the words ‘make it clear’ as part of his sentence.
The president, discussing the wars in Israel and Ukraine, declared: ‘We’ll have something that we do not seek – make it clear we do not seek – we do not seek to have American troops fighting in Russia.’
Biden, 80, was addressing the American people after arriving back in Washington DC on Thursday morning, following a seven-hour trip to Israel.
Biden’s visit was his second this year to an active war zone: in February, he made a secret visit to Kiev to mark the anniversary of the Ukraine war.
‘I’m told I was the first American to enter a war zone not controlled by the United States military since President Lincoln,’ he said on Thursday, of the February visit.
President Joe Biden used his address to the American people on Thursday night to warn Iran it would be held accountable for supporting both Russia and Hamas
Biden is seen on Thursday delivering his address, reading from the teleprompter
The president declared on Thursday that ‘American leadership is what holds the world together,’ arguing that the United States must deepen its support of Ukraine and Israel in the middle of two vastly different, unpredictable and bloody wars.
Acknowledging that ‘these conflicts can seem far away,’ Biden insisted in a rare Oval Office address that they remain ‘vital for America’s national security.’
He said he will ask Congress for billions of dollars in military assistance for both countries.
‘History has taught us when terrorists don’t pay a price for their terror, when dictators don’t pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction,’ Biden said.
‘They keep going. And the cost and the threat to America and the world keep rising.’
Biden’s speech reflected an expansive view of U.S. obligations overseas at a time when he faces political resistance to additional funding at home.
He is expected to ask for $105 billion on Friday, including $60 billion for Ukraine, much of which would replenish U.S. weapons stockpiles provided earlier.
There is also $14 billion for Israel, $10 billion for humanitarian efforts, $14 billion for managing the U.S.-Mexico border and fighting fentanyl trafficking and $7 billion for the Indo-Pacific region, which includes Taiwan.
The proposal was described by three people familiar with the details who insisted on anonymity before the official announcement.
‘It’s a smart investment that’s going to pay dividends for American security for generations,’ Biden said.
Biden speaks from the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday
A Russian rocket is seen exploding after hitting a building in Kharkiv on October 6
He hopes that combining all of these issues into one piece of legislation will create the necessary coalition for congressional approval.
His speech came the day after his high-stakes trip to Israel, where he showed solidarity with the country after the October 7 attack by Hamas and pushed for more humanitarian assistance to Palestinians.
With Israel continuing to bombard the Gaza Strip and preparing a ground invasion, Biden placed an increased emphasis on the deadly toll that the conflict has had on civilians there, saying he’s ‘heartbroken by the tragic loss of Palestinian life.’
‘Israel and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety, dignity and peace,’ Biden said.
He also warned about a rising tide of antisemitism and Islamophobia in the U.S., noting the killing of a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy.
‘To all you hurting, I want you to know I see you. You belong. And I want to say this to you. You’re all Americans.’
As Biden seeks a second term in a campaign that will likely hinge on voters’ feeling about the economy, he was careful to emphasize that the spending will create jobs for U.S. workers, referencing the construction of missiles in Arizona and artillery shells in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas.
And he worked in a nod to one of his political heroes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, by saying that ‘just as in World War II,’ the country is ‘building the arsenal of democracy and serving the cause of freedom.’
Biden faces an array of steep challenges as he tries to secure the money.
The House remains in chaos because the Republican majority has been unable to select a speaker to replace Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted more than two weeks ago.
In addition, conservative Republicans oppose money for sending more weapons to Ukraine as its battle against the Russian invasion approaches the two-year mark.
Biden’s previous request for funding, which included $24 billion to help with the next few months of fighting, was stripped out of budget legislation last month despite a personal plea from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
There will be resistance from some on the other side of the political spectrum when it comes to military assistance for Israel, which has been bombarding the Gaza Strip in response to the Hamas attack.