GOP senator says Biden’s speech was ‘strong’ despite gaffe at the end

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) addresses reporters during a press conference on Wednesday, February 16, 2022 to discuss inflation during President Biden’s administration.
Greg Nash

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on Sunday said President Biden’s speech in Warsaw, Poland, was “very strong” despite an apparent gaffe toward the end regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin remaining in power.

“I thought the president’s speech was very strong, despite the ad-lib at the end, and the gaffe at the end, but it was a powerful speech that does not match the action,” Portman said while appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

During a speech in Warsaw on Saturday, Biden said Putin “cannot remain in power,” sparking questions on whether Biden was calling for a policy of regime change. The White House and congressional Democrats have been quick to walk back Biden’s remark, saying that what he meant was that Putin should not have power outside of Russia.

While praising Biden’s speech as “strong,” Portman said it did not reflect on what the U.S. has done for Ukraine, calling for further military assistance to be given to Kyiv.

“There was a mismatch between the rhetoric and what we’re actually doing, and that’s the issue and that’s what [Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky] was talking about,” he said. “Because there are additional weapons that they’re desperately needing that we’re not yet providing, particularly any anti-air systems and more munitions for their own anti-air systems.”

Portman, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also voiced his support for giving Ukraine MiG-29 aircraft.

“They want it. It will be helpful. I think we need to trust them on that,” Portman said of Ukraine’s request for the jets.

Tags Joe Biden Joe Biden Rob Portman Rob Portman Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin Volodymyr Zelenskyy

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