Biden calls Trump and MAGA Republicans a threat to ‘the very foundations of America’


U.S. President Joe Biden warned Thursday night that “equality and democracy are under assault” in the U.S. as he sounded an alarm about his predecessor, Donald Trump, and “MAGA Republican” adherents — labelling those who support Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda an extremist threat to the nation and its future.

Aiming to reframe the November elections as part of a battle for the nation’s soul — “the work of my presidency” — Biden used a prime-time speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia to argue that Trump and MAGA allies are a challenge to nation’s system of government, its standing abroad and its citizens’ way of life.

“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic,” Biden declared. He said they “promote authoritarian leaders and they fan the flames of political violence.”

The explicit effort by Biden to marginalize Trump and his adherents marks a sharp turn for the president, who preached his desire to bring about national unity in his inaugural address. White House officials said it reflects his mounting concern about Trump allies’ ideological proposals and relentless denial of the nation’s 2020 election results.

“MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards,” Biden said. “Backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.”

“For a long time, we’ve reassured ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed. But it is not,” Biden said. “We have to defend it. Protect it. Stand up for it. Each and every one of us.”

WATCH | Biden says violence cannot be normalized: 

Biden calls out the current climate of violence in the U.S.

‘You can’t love your country only when you win,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a speech Thursday night. He called on Americans to reject violence, saying they cannot be ‘pro-insurrectionist and pro-American’ at the same time.

Biden, who largely avoided even referring to “the former guy” by name during his first year in office, has grown increasingly vocal in calling out Trump personally. Now, emboldened by his party’s recent legislative wins and wary of Trump’s return to the headlines, Biden is sharpening his attacks.

Trump has planned a rally this weekend in the Scranton, Penn. area, near Biden’s birthplace.

‘No question’ Trump dominates Republicans 

Raising his voice Thursday night over pro-Trump hecklers outside the building where the nation’s founding was debated, Biden said he wasn’t condemning the 74 million people who voted for Trump in 2020.

“Not every Republican, not even a majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans,” Biden said. “But there’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans.”

Biden’s appearance was promoted as an official, taxpayer-funded event, a mark of how the president views defeating the Trump agenda as much as a policy aim as a political one.

“There are far more Americans, from every background and belief, who reject the extreme MAGA ideology, than those that accept it,” Biden said. He urged Americans to “come together, unite behind the single purpose of defending our democracy regardless of your ideology.”

Biden also condemned political violence in all of its forms, saying, “We can’t allow violence to be normalized.”

A man in a suit and red tie looks off to one side with his mouth open.
Biden, who has rarely referred to Donald Trump by name in the past year, invoked him and his supporters several times over the course of his speech. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Delivering a preemptive rebuttal from Scranton Thursday evening, U.S, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy accused Biden of trying to divide Americans and blasted the Democrats’ record in Washington, pointing to rising inflation, crime and government spending.

“In the past two years, Joe Biden has launched an assault on the soul of America, on its people, on its laws, on its most sacred values,” he said. “He has launched an assault on our democracy. His policies have severely wounded America’s soul, diminished America’s spirit and betrayed America’s trust.”

Asked about McCarthy’s criticism, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said “we understand we hit a nerve” with the Republican leader, and quoted the Republican’s prior statements saying Trump bore responsibility for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Biden said MAGA Republicans threaten to take the U.S. backwards, ‘where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.’ (CBC)

Larry Diamond, an expert on democracy and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said calling Trump out for attacks on democracy “can be manipulated or framed as being partisan. And if you don’t call it out, you are shrinking from an important challenge in the defence of democracy.”

Even this week, Trump was posting on his beleaguered social media platform about overturning the 2020 election results and holding a new presidential election, which would violate the constitution.

Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University, said it’s not unusual for there to be tension between a president and his successor, but it’s “unprecedented for a former president to be actively trying to undermine the U.S. Constitution.”

“The challenge that President Biden faces is to get on with his agenda while still doing what he needs to uphold the constitution,” Naftali said. “That’s not easy.”

Biden’s appearance Thursday night was promoted as an official, taxpayer-funded event, a mark of how the president views defeating the Trump agenda as much as a policy aim as a political one. The major broadcast television networks did not carry the address live.

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