Biden Focuses On Issues Americans Care Least About In Biggest Speech Of Presidency

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Reagan Reese White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden set aside immigration, inflation and crime to lead his 2024 State of the Union speech with a trio of issues that hardly register in polls of the American people.

During the first ten minutes of his 2024 State of the Union address, Biden spent his time discussing the war in Ukraine and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot before moving on to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. At least an hour after the president was scheduled to take the podium, he finally touched on concerns about his age, the southern border crisis and answered the growing calls to say the name of Laken Riley, the deceased Georgia 22-year-old who was allegedly killed by an illegal immigrant. (RELATED: Chaos Erupts Outside White House, Capitol Building Just Before SOTU)

“If anybody in this room thinks Putin will stop at Ukraine, I assure you, he will not,” the 81-year-old began. “But Ukraine can stop Putin if we stand with Ukraine and provide the weapons it needs to defend itself. That is all Ukraine is asking. They are not asking for American soldiers.”

“In fact, there are no American soldiers at war in Ukraine. And I am determined to keep it that way. But now assistance for Ukraine is being blocked by those who want us to walk away from our leadership in the world,” he continued.

After stressing his message to Putin and making a pitch for more Ukraine aid, Biden pivoted to another topic that occurred nearly three and a half years ago: the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The president never addressed former President Donald Trump by name, rather referring to him as his predecessor.

“January 6th and the lies about the 2020 election, and the plots to steal the election, posed the gravest threat to our democracy since the Civil War,” Biden said. “But they failed. America stood strong and democracy prevailed. But we must be honest the threat remains and democracy must be defended.”

“My predecessor and some of you here seek to bury the truth of January 6th. I will not do that,” Biden continued.

Biden cast the recovery from the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic as a story of American comeback.

“America’s comeback is building a future of American possibilities, building an economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down, investing in all of America, in all Americans to make sure everyone has a fair shot and we leave no one behind,” Biden said.

“The pandemic no longer controls our lives. The vaccines that saved us from COVID are now being used to help beat cancer,” he continued.

While Biden and his advisors deemed Ukraine, COVID-19 and the January 6th Capitol as the best topics to open the address with, the American people have indicated an interest in other topics. Immigration is now Americans’ top concern, with 28% naming it their top priority, according to a February Gallup poll. Twenty percent of American voters called “government” their top priority while 12% named the “economy in general.”

Only nine percent of Americans called “threats to democracy,” a common phrase Biden and his allies have used to characterize Trump and his administration, their top priority, according to a January Data for Progress survey.

Just 3% of American voters said foreign aid and issues overseas are their priority — the very topic Biden chose to open his State of the Union with.

Those issues that Americans have deemed their top concerns came in the second half of Biden’s speech, about thirty minutes into his address. When discussing the border crisis, the president repeated his calls for Congress to pass a supplemental funding bill that would provide funds to stem the border crisis, while also giving aid to both Ukraine and Israel. Most notably, the president was confronted by Georgia Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene, who called out during the address and begged the president to say the name of Riley.

Biden tried to, but he botched Riley’s first name and instead referring to her as “Lincoln.”

“Lincoln. Lincoln Riley,” Biden said, holding up a pin with the late female’s name. “The innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal. That’s right.”

The slip-up was the only major flub for Biden, who saved the final moments of his speech to address his age, another key concern for voters.

“Now some other people my age see a different story. An American story of resentment, revenge, and retribution. That’s not me,” Biden said, before going on to tout the experience his age gives him.

Biden’s fitness for office remained a main concern ahead of his address. At least 66% of American voters are worried about Biden’s age and health ahead of the 2024 election, according to a Feb. 6 NBC poll. But the worries for Biden’s health truly ignited following special counsel Robert Hur’s report on the president’s handling of classified documents last month. Hur noted that in a five hour interview with the special counsel, the president appeared to forget when he began and ended his vice presidency and was unable to identify the date that late son passed away.

There was an emphasis on the president’s energy during his State of the Union address, a moment his re-election campaign is reportedly planning to use as a reset while he trails in the polls. In preparation, Biden reportedly spent ample time fine tuning his address and doing physical tests. Regardless of the prep work, some Democrats and allies still feared potential gaffes.

“If I was smart I would go home now,” Biden said as he took the podium.