“The MAGA Republicans are not only threatening our personal rights and economic security,” Biden said, referring to former President Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan. “They are a threat to our own democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace – embrace – political violence. They don’t believe in democracy.”
“This is why we, those who love this country – Democrats, Independents, mainstream Republicans – need to be stronger right now,” he added.
As if it was a sign, the rally was interrupted by a heckler yelling, “You stole the election!” The crowd cheered as the man was escorted out, holding up his two fingers like President Richard M. Nixon and bowing briefly.
Earlier in the evening, Biden spoke at a reception that helped raise $1 million for Democratic campaigns, expressing more emphatically his concern for American democracy and the Republicans he sees as a threat.
“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden said. “It’s not just Trump, it’s the whole philosophy that underlies — I’m going to say something — it’s like semi-fascism.”
Biden brought up Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and his frequent interactions with Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as criticizing his predecessor for weakening the United States on the global stage.
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“I underestimated how much damage the past four years have done to America’s reputation in the world,” the president said.
The rhetoric was an escalation for Biden and an indication that he sees the threat greater than just Trump and an ideology showing little sign of abating. It also marked a transition, as the president focused more strongly on the midterm elections, trying not only to prove his own track record, but also to create a sharper contrast with the opposing party.
“I want to be crystal clear about what’s on the ballot this year,” he said at the start of his remarks, taking off his jacket and rolling up his sleeves. “Your right to vote is on the ballot this year. The social security you have paid since you had a job is stated on the ballot. The safety of our children from gun violence is on the agenda.”
“The very survival of our planet is at stake,” he added. “Your voting rights are written on the ballot paper. Even democracy. Are you ready to fight for these things now?”
A Republican National Committee spokesman criticized Biden for his comments, including his use of the term “semi-fascism.”
“Despicable,” said Nathan Brand, an RNC spokesperson. “Biden forced Americans out of their jobs, transferred money from working families to Harvard lawyers, and sent our country into a recession while families can’t afford gas and groceries. Democrats don’t care about suffering Americans — they never did.”
Earlier in the evening, the White House used its official Twitter account to point to comments by Republican lawmakers they viewed as hypocritical — a level of partisan belligerent the Biden administration has often avoided.
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After Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), speaking to conservative Newsmax, said it was “totally unfair” for Biden to cancel some student debt, the White House said. reminded of Greene on Twitter that she had forgiven $183,504 in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program.
It went on with a number of other lawmakers — including Representatives Vern Buchanan (Fla.), Mike Kelly (Pa.) and Markwayne Mullin (Okla.) — with the White House noting the hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt that Republicans, who criticized the program for forgiving student loans, had forgiven through PPP.
During Thursday night’s rally, Biden’s message also emerged as a recovery story. He painted a picture of a country rising from the depths of a global pandemic and economic devastation.
“We’ve come a long way,” he said, representing a campaign slogan in a high school gymnasium where some in the crowd were holding signs that read “A Better America.”
The question that will arise in the coming months is whether voters agree that the country is making progress and whether Democrats remain motivated, especially at a time when most candidates in competitive races have avoided Biden and have not asked him to join them. campaign.
Biden urged his party to show up in large numbers, including by trying to convince them of the unfinished business he wants done. Indicating his struggle to deal with two Democratic senators who often thwart him — Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — he said, “If we elect two more senators, we’ll keep the House . . . a lot. get unfinished business done.”
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He said they would codify the Roe v. Wade abortion protections, ban assault weapons, pass universal prekindergarten, restore the child tax credit, and pass voting protections.
But Biden was most animated when he criticized Republicans and expressed surprise at the direction the party was heading.
“There aren’t many real Republicans out there anymore,” he said, adding that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan “is a Republican you can hang out with.”
“I respect conservative Republicans,” he added. “I have no respect for these MAGA Republicans.”
For a president who has often avoided talking about his predecessor — referring to him as “the former man” at some points — Biden lost much of that restraint on Thursday.
“Donald Trump is not just any former president,” Biden said. “He’s a defeated former president!”
“It’s no exaggeration,” he added. “Now you have to vote to literally save democracy again.”