It was an energetic kickoff to midterm politics for the president, who then addressed a crowd of supporters in a Maryland high school gymnasium to test the message he should aggressively tout for Democrats this fall.
“In 2020, you and 81 million Americans voted to save our democracy,” Biden told a cheering crowd. “That’s why Donald Trump isn’t just a former president. He’s a defeated former president.”
The victories had clearly injected a fighting spirit into Biden, who adopted the fiery campaign cadence that has been mostly absent from his White House appearances. He immediately took off his suit jacket before starting his speech.
“We never backed down and we deliver for the American people now,” he said. “Even our detractors have been forced to acknowledge real progress.”
He said Trump and his fellow Republicans “made their choice to go back, full of anger, violence, hatred and division.”
“We have chosen a different path: forward, forward, unity, hope and optimism,” Biden proclaimed.
Biden hopes the recent string of accomplishments can propel the Democrats to power. But his attacks on Trump and the Republicans who have remained loyal to him have also escalated markedly as November’s congressional contests approach.
“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the end of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden told a group of Democratic donors at a private Maryland home ahead of the rally.
“It’s not just Trump,” he continued, “it’s the whole philosophy behind the – I’m going to say something: it’s like semi-fascism.”
Labeling Trump’s views as a type of proto-fascism marked an escalation in Biden’s rebuke of his predecessor and laid the groundwork for a medium-term political message designed to paint his opponents as too extremes for most voters.
“The whole notion of hot politics and MAGA Republicans continues to be a drumbeat,” he said at the rally.
A Republican National Committee spokesperson hit back at Biden’s labeling of some Republicans who follow Trump as “semi-fascists.”
“Despicable,” said Nathan Brand, a spokesperson for RNC. “Biden forced Americans out of their jobs, transferred money from working-class families to Harvard lawyers, and plunged our country into a recession when families can’t afford gas and oil. grocery store. Democrats don’t care about Americans suffering — they never have.”
“MAGA Republicans have no idea the power of women,” Biden said when discussing abortion rights.
Touting new gun laws, he said children should “learn to read and write in school instead of learning to hide and cover”.
And with the recent passage of hundreds of billions of dollars to fight climate change, Biden said, “This year the American people won and the climate deniers lost.”
Abortion rights play major role in motivating Democrats
Earlier this week in upstate New York, Democrat Pat Ryan’s victory in a special election offered a clear sign that the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade animated the Democratic base. And earlier this month, Kansas voters turned out in droves to oppose a ballot measure that would have allowed lawmakers to ban abortion in the state, signaling the galvanizing effect of the issue. .
Ahead of the rally — at a private fundraiser in Bethesda, Maryland — Biden told about 100 attendees he thought Democrats were heading “in the right direction.” The fundraiser raised about $1 million for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund, a DNC official told the news pool.
“What we’ve demonstrated is that we can take on the gun lobby, we can take on these other organizations and educate the American people about what’s at stake. And I think we can win” , Biden said.
Thursday’s speech offered a glimpse of how the president will personally continue to emphasize the importance of the fight for reproductive rights to voters as his administration moves to strengthen protections for women in the wake of the June decision. It comes as a slate of restrictive state abortion laws are set to go into effect this week.
Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing on Wednesday that the White House remains “committed to restoring Roe’s protections.” But the executive branch is limited in its ability to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision.
The president and top administration officials have repeatedly called on Congress to restore the nation’s right to abortion, but such legislation aimed at codifying the protections in Roe v. Wade currently lacks the 60 votes needed to advance to the Senate. Biden and other leading Democrats will have to make clear to voters their case for electing state-level abortion rights officials as Republican-led legislatures rush to limit the process .
The White House called these laws — along with abortion laws in South Carolina, Alabama, Indiana, Arizona, and Georgia and proposed laws in South Carolina, Texas, and Missouri — ” extremes”.
These state laws, White House Gender Policy Council Director Jen Klein said in an interview with CNN, “not only threaten abortion rights, they endanger lives and women’s health”.
The president and White House officials said the Supreme Court’s decision was “out of step” with the opinion of the majority of Americans on the issue.
“Women in particular, but people from all political walks of life are angry, scared and motivated by this ill-decided affair,” Klein said.
She added, “What we’re seeing right now across the country is that Americans need to raise their voices to make sure their elected officials represent their views. In the meantime, we’re going to do whatever we can. .”
The White House also maintained a public pressure campaign. On Wednesday, Jean-Pierre blasted a decision by a Texas federal judge that blocked Department of Health and Human Services guidelines that emergency medical care must include abortion services. She called the decision “devastating” in a statement and warned that women “could die of it”.
And in a statement Thursday, Jean-Pierre offered his support for a federal district court ruling in Idaho that will allow women to continue to seek abortion care, saying it will “avoid serious harm to Idaho women”.
CNN’s Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.