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With less than nine weeks to go until November’s midterm elections, when the Democrats razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate are on the line, President Biden is set to make a short trip Thursday evening from the White House to nearby National Harbor in Maryland, where he’ll speak at a Democratic National Committee reception.
The president’s participation in the DNC gathering comes amid heightened rhetoric from Biden targeting “MAGA Republicans” whom he argues have embraced “semi-fascism” due to their continued loyalty to former President Donald Trump.
The president’s more aggressive political language of late appears to be a move to alter the midterms narrative from a referendum on Biden and congressional Democrats and their record steering the country — amid record inflation, soaring crime, and border security — to a choice election between Biden and Trump and a battle to save democracy. The president’s new push has made national headlines, and has received plenty of pushback from Republicans.
“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden told Democratic donors at a gathering in Maryland two weeks ago. “It’s not just Trump,” he went on, “it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something: It’s like semi-fascism.”
At an ensuing DNC rally that evening, the president charged that “MAGA Republicans don’t just threaten our personal rights and economic security, they’re a threat to our very democracy.
In a speech early last week in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, spotlighting his plan to tackle crime and beef up police funding, Biden once again took aim at what he claims is the far-right’s extremism and lawlessness.
“You can’t be pro-law enforcement and pro-insurrection,” the president said as he referred to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by right-wing extremists and other Trump supporters, which disrupted congressional certification of Biden’s 2020 Electoral College victory over the then-president. “You can’t be a party of law and order and call the people who attacked the police on January 6 patriots. You can’t do it.”
Two days later — in a primetime address at Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, where the Declaration of Independence and the nation’s Constitution were debated and signed — Biden kept up his jabs.
“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal. Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” the president charged in his speech.
After those speeches and the ensuing anger from Republicans, Biden and the White House clarified the remarks, apparently attempting to walk back the divisive rhetoric somewhat.
“I don’t consider any Trump supporters a threat to the country,” Biden said on Sept. 2. “I do think anyone who calls for the use of violence, refuses to acknowledge an election…changing the way you count votes, that is a threat to democracy.”
The White House also denied that Biden’s Philadelphia speech — where he said the country was in a battle for the heart and soul of America, and urged people to “vote, vote, vote” — was a political address.
“It’s no more ‘political’ than this accurate and timely reporting from CNN,” White House deupty press secretary Andrew Bates told reporters, before sharing CNN headlines like “Jake Tapper breaks down GOP threats to democracy” and “An Arizona Trump rally and voting rights march underscore the fight for democracy.”