Battenfeld: War and foreign policy become new flash point in 2024 White House campaign

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With President Biden threatening to draw the U.S. into a wider Mideast war, suddenly foreign policy – an issue almost overlooked weeks before – has become a heated flash point in the 2024 White House campaign.

Biden’s attempt to tie the Israel-Hamas conflict to support for Ukraine has drawn the ire of Republicans and presidential candidates looking to separate themselves from the crowded field. And the Democratic president’s strong stance for Israel is prompting blowback in his own party — potentially siphoning away badly-needed progressive voters.

Some candidates and their super PACs are jumping into war footing, flooding the airwaves with new ads about the Israeli-Hamas war.

“The shame of it all is that we wouldn’t be in this terrible position if Joe Biden hadn’t been so weak in Afghanistan, so slow in Ukraine, so pandering to Iran, and so absent from the border,” GOP presidential candidate and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said on X. “The world is on fire and America needs strong new leadership to deal with it.”

GOP candidate Sen. Tim Scott said in a radio interview the U.S. needs to “stand shoulder to shoulder” with Israel with “no daylight” between the two countries.

“We’re seeing the devastation and the human carnage brought to the Jewish people by Hamas,” Scott said. “We have to be very, very clear that we stand with Israel.”

Republicans in Congress are vowing to block further funding for Ukraine, leading to a likely future showdown with Biden.

Sen. J.D. Vance called Biden’s attempt to tie the Israel-Hamas war to aid for Ukraine as “completely disgraceful.”

“What Biden is doing is disgusting,” Vance said. “He’s using dead children in Israel to sell his disastrous Ukraine policy to skeptical Americans. They are not the same countries; they are not the same problems, and this effort to use Israel for political cover is offensive. Hell no.”

The war is already spilling over into the campaign. Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are feuding over whether the U.S. should take in Palestinian refugees, with DeSantis accusing the surging Haley of flip-flopping on the issue. Haley has strongly denied making the remarks about refugees being accepted into the U.S.

The former U.N. Ambassador is running second to Donald Trump in New Hampshire, where the former president is making a campaign stop on Monday.

DeSantis’s willingness to engage in a skirmish with Haley indicates both are fighting to be Trump’s main opposition, with Haley surging ahead in recent weeks.

The U.S.’s involvement in supplying aid and arms to Israel could also bring the threat of surging oil prices, making that a major 2024 issue.

It’s all fun and games until the price of gas hits $10 a gallon.

Or the supply chain gets disrupted and causes inflation to skyrocket.

These potential ramifications could trigger trouble for Biden, who is already struggling with weak job approval ratings and tied or behind Trump in most polls.

Biden’s strong stance in support of Israel may win him some votes with moderates and Jewish voters but could cost him votes with progressives who are mounting protests in support of the Palestinian people.

He’s even under pressure from some far-left lawmakers like the Squad and Sen. Edward Markey to support a cease-fire in Gaza, but so far the president isn’t biting.

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