Biden to deliver prime-time speech on democracy on Thursday

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President Biden will deliver a prime-time speech on Thursday about the fight for democracy in America and “the continuing battle for the soul of the nation,” a White House official said Monday, a speech that is expected to confirm his growing rhetorical emphasis on the anti-democratic forces he sees as capturing much of the Republican Party.

Speaking at Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, the president is expected to highlight his administration’s accomplishments and argue that the the democratic values ​​of the country will be at stake during the midterm elections.

“He will talk about the progress we have made as a nation to protect our democracy, but how our rights and freedoms are always under attack“, the official said. “It will make it clear who is fighting for these rights, fighting for these freedoms and fighting for our democracy.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the contents of the speech.

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Biden has adopted a message for the midterm elections in recent days that includes fiery denunciations of what he calls authoritarian tensions within the Republican Party, including during a speech last thursday saying many in the GOP had turned to “semi-fascism.” He added that “MAGA Republicans,” as he called them, “embrace political violence. They don’t believe in America.

Although Biden has touched on such themes before, the deeper nature of the speech was a departure from a message that had more often highlighted his legislative accomplishments.

Thursday’s speech is not framed as a political event, and given its character as a prime-time presidential speech, Biden could avoid some of his harsher denunciations.

The need to restore America’s core values, including democracy and the rule of law, has been a theme of Biden’s presidency from the start. He cited it as the reason he decided to run in 2020, describing his horror at the white supremacist march in Charlottesville in 2017, and President Donald Trump’s comment afterwards that there was “very good people on both sides.”

Biden has sometimes suggested that a central way to combat anti-democratic forces is to show that democracy and government can work. That prompted some Democrats to complain that he was reluctant to forcefully denounce Trump and other Republicans who falsely claimed the last election was rigged and could set the stage for contesting future legitimate elections.

But now Biden appears to be looking to merge the two messages — saying “MAGA Republicans” are trying to destroy democracy, and traditional Democrats and Republicans are getting things done.

Biden has delivered few prime-time speeches during his presidency, often preferring to make less formal remarks at less important times. Delivering Thursday’s speech at Independence Park, where the declaration of independence and constitution were debated and signed, Biden continues his pattern of use symbolic backgrounds when seeking to make a broader statement.

During the campaign, for example, Biden spoke at Gettysburg, using the historic Civil War battleground to lament “the cost of division” and saying, “We must come together as a nation.” He also spoke in Warm Springs, Georgia, whose therapeutic waters were a frequent destination for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. And last year, Biden traveled to Tulsa to commemorate racial attacks that killed up to 300 black Americans a century earlier.

Biden, throughout his career, has also used speeches as a way to mark major moments, seeing them as a way to organize his own thoughts and galvanize supporters around a particular cause, either from the Senate , or, in this case, one of the countries. most sacred places dedicated to democracy.

Philadelphia has been a favorite spot for Biden, not far from his childhood home in Scranton or his current home in Delaware. He announced his 2020 presidential bid in the city, stressing the importance of standing in the cradle of American democracy. His campaign was headquartered there, and he returned to Philadelphia shortly before the election.

Biden visited the city again last year to remark on the importance of protecting the right to vote.

Matt Viser contributed to this report.

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