President Biden on Thursday warned Americans that democracy is under attack from a faction of the Republican Party led by former President Donald Trump, and called on Democrats, mainstream Republicans and independents to ‘talk, speak out, engage – vote, vote vote.”
In a rare primetime speech, Biden attacked his predecessor, saying “too much of what is happening in our country today is not normal.” The speech came just two months before the midterm congressional elections, where Democrats are battling to retain their slim majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives.
Biden said the Republican Party was “dominated, pushed, bullied by Donald Trump” and his supporters, calling it a “threat to this country.”
“They refuse to accept the results of free elections. And they are working right now as I speak state to state to give the power to decide elections in America to supporters and cronies, giving Holocaust deniers the means to undermine democracy itself,” Biden said. said, speaking outside Independence National Historical Park in downtown Philadelphia.
The White House claimed it was not a political speech, but Biden launched several political campaigns against Trump and his supporters. He called them “MAGA Republicans” – in reference to the slogan “Make America Great Again” used by the former president.
“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” he said.
Biden looking to capitalize on recent momentum, strategists say
After months of struggle in the polls, Biden is looking to capitalize on a string of legislative victories, concerns over the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion — and continued coverage of Trump’s legal troubles said Doug Sosnik, former adviser to President Bill Clinton.
“The real power of the presidency is to understand the use of the bully pulpit,” Sosnik said. “The better your standing with the American public, the more likely you are to make an impact with the speech.”
Ben Tulchin, a Democratic pollster, praised Biden and his team for changing their strategy and confronting Republicans more directly.
He said Biden was wise to draw more contrast between him and Trump and the Republicans. “Every hero needs a villain,” Tulchin said. “And Donald Trump plays a really good villain.”
Republicans have said Biden is divisive
Speaking ahead of the speech, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy called on Biden to apologize.
“President Biden has chosen to divide, belittle and denigrate his fellow Americans – why? Simply because they don’t agree with his politics,” McCarthy said in his own speech from Pennsylvania. “That’s not leadership.”
Biden sought to clarify that he was not critical of all Republicans, calling on mainstream Republicans to reject that wing of their party.
“We are not powerless in the face of these threats. We are not bystanders in this ongoing attack on democracy,” he said. “There are far more Americans, far more Americans of all backgrounds and creeds who reject extreme MAGA ideology than those who accept it.”