Spring 2019, Joe Bidenhis Philadelphia presidential bid, telling supporters the first reason he entered was to “restore the soul of the nation.”
Back in Philadelphia on Thursday night, just two and a half miles from where he stood in 2019, he discussed what the White House is calling “the ongoing battle for the soul of the nation” on the eve of the traditional fall midterm campaign season.
“I want to be very clear up front — not every Republican is a MAGA Republican,” Biden said. “Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology. I know because I’ve had the opportunity to work with these mainstream Republicans.”
But, he said, much of the Republican Party is “intimidated” by former President Trump and his followers.
“I believe it is my duty to tell the truth with you, no matter how difficult and painful,” he said. “And here’s what I believe to be true: MAGA Republicans don’t respect the Constitution. They don’t believe in the rule of law. They don’t recognize the will of the people. They refused to recognize a free election.”
The Address Comes When Trump Is Facing Aon several fronts and dozens of Trump-backed candidates who share his false belief that the 2020 presidential election has been stolen are seeking office in battlefield states where they could one day control the levers of the election.
“As your president, I will fight with every fiber of my being for democracy and I ask every American to join me,” added Mr Biden. He later called on Americans to vote in the upcoming elections.
Aid workers, who privately admit that more headlines about the former president will help improve the current president’s political standing, have publicly insisted the speech has nothing to do with Trump.
“This is not a speech about the former president. This is a speech about American democracy,” a senior administration official said in a preview of the speech to reporters on Thursday morning.
“It’s not a response to any news of the day. It’s a response to what he sees as a moment in this country … where he feels it is his responsibility to ask the American people this fundamental question about what kind of a nation who we will be, and what we need to do to address the threat to our democracy that he believes currently exist,” added the official, who was given anonymity by news organizations to share details of the speech ahead of time. .
The president delivered the speech outside Independence Hall to an invited audience of several hundred people.
Republicans, eager to take advantage of the president’s low approval ratings and draw attention to him, argue that Mr. Biden is abandoning his campaign promises to unite the country and not speak ill of opponents. In a speech Thursday afternoon, House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy argued that the president “wants to belittle hard-working Americans and not offer a plan to save our country from the disaster caused by the Democrats.”
Speaking on Fox News Wednesday night, Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio criticized Biden’s comments last week during a closed-door Democratic Party fundraising campaign when he said “an extreme MAGA philosophy” is “like semi-fascism.” .
“Essentially, they’ve now put up a shield where if you criticize them, they’ll claim you’re endangering them,” Rubio said. “In contrast, they don’t criticize Republicans. They try to dehumanize, vilify and vilify Republicans by calling them not Republican office holders, but Republican voters, ordinary people, by calling them semi-fascists.”
“You criticize the FBI, you get all these news stories about unprecedented threats to the FBI,” Rubio added. “You criticize the IRS, a few days later the IRS says, oh now we are threatened.”
In response, White House aides insisted that his Thursday night comments should not be seen as an overt political appeal to voters. The speech, they said, describes what the president sees as threats “not from the Republican party,” but from “MAGA Republicans and the extremism that currently threatens our democratic values,” the senior official said.
The official described the MAGA agenda as “a movement that does not recognize free and fair elections, a movement that increasingly speaks of violence in response to actions they do not like or disagree with, which is not the way on which democracies behave.”
The president often speaks of how, as a twice-failure presidential candidate and former vice president, he felt compelled to run for the Oval Office again and restore the soul of the nation after the violent protests of 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. led by white supremacists, an event that prompted Trump to say there were good people “on both sides” of the violent aftermath. And he has repeatedly tried to put his presidency at the forefront in a struggle that pits democracies and autocracies for global dominance.
But in more recent weeks, the president’s talks about democracy have become much more partisan and fierce, including criticism of comments made last weekend by South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey O. Graham, who argued that if Trump is prosecuted for alleged mishandling of Secret Documents “There are riots in the streets.”
“Did any of you think that if you’re my age, you’ve ever been to an election we’re talking about, it’s appropriate to use violence and political violence in America?” heduring a talk in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “It’s never appropriate. Never.’
Jack Turman, Kathryn Watson and Sophie Reardon contributed to this report.