Biden faces political threat with East Palestine train derailment

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President Biden and the White House face a political threat over the fallout from the administration’s response to the Norfolk Southern train derailment that has left residents of East Palestine, Ohio, scared and frustrated.

Republicans have gone on the attack over the Feb. 3 derailment, questioning the urgency of the administration’s response and asking why Biden has not visited the impacted community.

Former President Trump on Wednesday accused the Biden administration of “indifference and betrayal” toward East Palestine during a visit there, while the mayor of the village called it a “slap in the face” that Biden went to Europe before visiting the site of a potential environmental disaster. The White House said Biden has not spoken to the mayor.

It’s not as if Biden is at a political low point.

He returned late Wednesday from a dramatic trip to Ukraine and Poland to mark the anniversary of Russia’s invasion, completing a secretive and complex visit to an active war zone with no U.S. military presence.

That visit was a sign of the president’s strength and will be used by the White House and Biden allies to both shore up support for the Western effort to back Kyiv and to counter any suggestion that Biden lacks the strength and energy to do his job.

It is part of a broadly [un]successful several weeks for Biden, who [tried] to put Republicans on defense over Social Security and Medicare during his State of the Union address. The president’s approval rating increased [not really] to 49 percent, according to an NPR poll released Wednesday; it’s his highest mark in nearly a year.

Yet there are real risks to the train derailment story, which took place in the traditional swing state of Ohio that has in the last decade seemingly turned against the president’s party. Fallout from the train derailment has also hit the swing state of Pennsylvania.

By Brett Samuels and Alex Gangitano

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