War in Ukraine ushers in more pragmatic politics back at home

WASHINGTON — If it’s Wednesday … The Russian invasion of Ukraine enters Day 14. … Vice President Harris heads to Poland as the U.S. rejects Poland’s offer for fighter jets to Ukraine. … President Biden holds an event on competitiveness at the White House. … Fox News releases new polls of key GOP primaries in Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. … and a jury finds Jan. 6 rioter guilty on all charges.

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

That’s a consequence of the two-week war in Ukraine, including here in the U.S. Just consider these moving parts:

  • In announcing the ban on Russian oil imports, Biden boasted about the record level of domestic oil and gas production in the United States – while at the same time saying he’s still focused on clean-energy investments.
  • Facing record-high gas prices, the U.S. has begun reaching out to oil-rich Venezuela (and the country released at least two imprisoned Americans).
  • Ditto Saudi Arabia and the UAE. (After the Wall Street Journal reported that leaders of those countries declined calls with the U.S., American/Saudi/Emirati sources told NBC News they rejected the characterization of that story.)
  • And the Democratic Socialists of America, whose influence within progressive circles is growing, is facing backlash for calling to withdraw from NATO.
War in Ukraine ushers in more pragmatic politics back at home

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

At least for now.

And it raises this question: Can Biden, who campaigned on pragmatism in 2019-2020, capitalize on this patriotism and new pragmatic political environment?

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

Case in point: “Republicans cheer Russian oil ban and jeer Biden for rising gas prices.”

Data Download: The number of the day is … $13.6 billion

That’s the final amount of Ukrainian aid Congress is looking to pass, per NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell. It’s a figure that’s a dramatic increase from the $6.4 billion the Biden administration initially asked for.

The aid will be a part of the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill that congressional leadership is working on passing before Friday’s deadline.

Other numbers you need to know today:

107: How many years it’s been since the ship Endurance, which was finally found off the coast of Antarctica, had been lost after it sank.

1: How many states currently have a mask mandate — Hawaii. Gov. David Ige announced that he will let that mandate expire on March 25.

79,545,412: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per 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

Midterm roundup

Fox News released a flurry of polls Tuesday evening, focused on contested GOP Senate and gubernatorial primaries.

In Pennsylvania, former hedge fund manager David McCormick leads the GOP Senate field at 24 percent among GOP primary voters, followed by celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz with 15 percent, former Lt. Gov. nominee Jeff Bartos and conservative activist Kathy Barnette both at 9 percent, and former Ambassador Carla Sands at 6 percent. Nearly one-third of those surveyed — 31 percent — are undecided.

The GOP primary for governor is even more crowded — with 25 percent undecided. Rep. Lou Barletta gets support from 19 percent of those surveyed , followed by state Sen. Doug Mastriano at 18 percent, former Councilman Dave White at 14 percent and attorney Bill McSwain at 11 percent.

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

And in the Ohio Senate primary, investment banker Mike Gibbons is at 22 percent, followed by former state Treasurer Josh Mandel at 20 percent. J.D. Vance follows at 11 percent, while former GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken gets 9 percent and state Sen. Matt Dolan 7 percent.

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

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto dropped her first TV ads, touting her role in delivering pandemic relief.

Former North Carolina GOP Gov. Pat McCrory is hitting the airwaves ahead of the Senate primary in May with an ad knocking Trump-backed GOP Rep. Ted Budd’s comments about Putin. McCrory’s campaign is spending $111,000 on Fox News airtime, per AdImpact. (Politico is out with a new story on how Budd, has struggled to vanquish McCrory.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., endorsed state Rep. Jasmine Crockett in the primary runoff in Texas’ 30th District.

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

Ad watch: All vying for a special endorsement

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed over 100 candidates for all levels of office in this year’s midterm elections. But there are still candidates across the country vying for his endorsement, particularly in some key races.

Trump has yet to endorse in the Ohio and Missouri Republican Senate primaries. He also hasn’t endorsed any of the current candidates running for governor or Senate in Pennsylvania.

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

In Missouri, Save Missouri Values highlights “America-first conservative” Eric Schmitt alongside a photo of Schmitt with Trump. In Ohio, a local GOP Chairman tells viewers, “You’re going to get a true Trump conservative … in Jane Timken,” in an ad run by WFW Action Fund. And, in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Leaders Fund highlights Bill McSwain’s time as “Trump’s U.S. Attorney,” while featuring a photo of the two men together.

And, in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Leaders Fund highlights 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 happening in the world

NBC looks at the administration’s messaging shift on gas prices.

President Biden is issuing an executive order calling on the government to look closer at cryptocurrency.

A dual citizen has been charged with acting as a Russian agent in the U.S.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford is raising concerns about domestic violence allegations against the administration’s pick to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The invasion of Ukraine retraumatizes Holocaust survivors in N.Y.’s Little Odessa.