“MAGA Republicans are not just threatening our personal rights and economic security,” Biden said, referring to former President Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan. “They are a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace — embrace — political violence. They don’t believe in democracy.
“That’s why right now, those of you who love this country — Democrats, Independents, mainstream Republicans — we need to be stronger,” he added.
As well-timed, the rally was interrupted by a heckler shouting, “You stole the election! The crowd booed as the man was escorted away, raising his two fingers like President Richard M. Nixon and bowing briefly.
Earlier in the evening, speaking at a reception that raised $1 million for Democratic campaigns, Biden specifically expressed concerns about American democracy and Republicans whom he sees as a threat.
“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the end of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden said. “It’s not just Trump, it’s the whole philosophy behind the – I’m going to say something – it’s like semi-fascism.”
Referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and his frequent interactions with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Biden also criticized his predecessor for weakening the United States on the world stage.
“I underestimated the damage done by the previous four years in terms of America’s reputation around the world,” the president said.
The rhetoric was an escalation for Biden and an indication that he sees the threat as greater than Trump and an ideology that shows few signs of slowing down. It also marked a transition, as the president turned more towards the midterm elections and tried not only to brag about his own record, but also to create a sharper contrast with the opposing party.
“I want to be crystal clear on what’s on the ballot this year,” he said at the start of his remarks, during which he took off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. “Your right to choose is on the ballot this year. The social security you have paid since you took up employment is listed on the ballot. The safety of our children from gun violence is on the ballot.
“The very survival of our planet is at stake,” he added. “Your right to vote is on the ballot. Even democracy. Are you ready to fight for these things now? »
A spokesperson for the Republican National Committee criticized Biden for his remarks, including his use of the term “semi-fascism.”
“Despicable,” replied Nathan Brand, a spokesperson for the RNC. “Biden has forced Americans out of their jobs, funneled money from working families to Harvard lawyers, and plunged our country into a recession as families can’t afford gas and oil. ‘grocery. Democrats don’t care about the suffering of Americans — they never have.
Earlier in the evening, the White House took to its official Twitter account to flag comments from Republican lawmakers they considered hypocritical — a level of partisan combativeness the Biden administration has often avoided.
After Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), speaking to conservative outlet Newsmax, said it was “completely unfair” for Biden to write off student debt, the White House reminded Greene on Twitter that she had $183,504 in Canceled Paycheck Protection Program loans.
This continued with a number of other lawmakers – including Reps. Vern Buchanan (Florida), Mike Kelly (Pennsylvania) and Markwayne Mullin (Okla.) – the White House noting the hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt these Republicans, who criticized the student loan forgiveness program, had forgiven PPP.
At Thursday night’s rally, Biden’s midterm message also came across as centering on a recovery story. He painted a picture of a country rising from the depths of a global pandemic and economic devastation.
“We’ve come a long way,” he said, in what amounted to a campaign slogan at a high school gymnasium where some in the crowd held signs reading “A Better America.”
The question that will arise over the next few months is whether voters agree that the country is moving forward and whether Democrats remain motivated, especially at a time when most candidates in competitive races avoided Biden and did not ask him to campaign with them.
Biden has urged his party to show up in large numbers, in part by trying to convince them of the unfinished business he wants to do. In an indication of his difficulties dealing with two Democratic senators who often antagonize him – Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – he said, “If we elect two more senators, we keep the House … we are going to do a lot of unfinished business.
He said they would codify the Roe vs. Wade abortion protections, banning assault weapons, enacting universal pre-kindergarten, restoring the child tax credit, and enacting voting rights protections.
But Biden came alive the most in criticizing Republicans and expressing amazement at the direction the party is heading.
“There aren’t many real Republicans left,” he said, adding that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan “is a Republican you can deal with.”
“I respect conservative Republicans,” he added. “I don’t respect those MAGA Republicans.”
For a president who has often avoided discussing his predecessor — referring to him at times as “the old guy” — Biden lost much of that reluctance on Thursday.
“Donald Trump is not just a former president,” Biden said. “He’s a defeated former president!”
“It’s not hyperbole,” he added. “Now you must vote to literally save democracy again.”