Biden to take another swipe at ‘MAGA Republicans’ in primetime speech

Standing in front of Independence Hall, the birthplace of American democracy, Biden will tell the crowd, “MAGA forces are determined to roll this country backwards. Back to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry whoever you love.

“For a long time, we have reassured ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed. But it’s not. We have to defend it. Protect him. Defend yourself. Each of us,” Biden will say.

Aides pointed out that the speech, delivered just days before the unofficial Labor Day kickoff for the lengthy midterm election campaign, would not be overtly political. But it was hard to read it as anything other than Biden’s attempt to frame the stakes of a once again Trump-dominated election after an FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home revealed classified information and intensified discussions on possible criminal charges for the former president

And it will come in split-screen form: Just hours before Biden’s speech, the last court hearing over boxes of classified documents found in Trump’s Palm Beach estate played in a Florida courtroom, where a federal judge has indicated she will consider temporarily barring Justice Department investigators from reviewing the documents seized.

And as Biden prepared to deal forcefully with rising political violence, his predecessor spent the morning defending the Jan. 6 rioters. He has vowed, if he runs and is re-elected, to offer ‘full pardons’ and formal apologies to rioters who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 in a bid to overturn the election results .

“I will look very, very favorably on full pardons. If I decide to run and if I win, I will be very, very strongly seeking pardons,” Trump said on the Wendy Bell show. “I mean full pardons with apologies to many.”

Trump said he met with some of the Jan. 6 defendants earlier this week at his office and said he would support them financially.

On Thursday, former New York Police Department officer Thomas Webster was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his violent assault on a Capitol police officer on January 6. It was the harshest sentence ever handed down for any involvement in the insurgency.

In Philadelphia, Biden’s speech will focus on the “continuing battle for the soul of the nation,” the principle he cited as the driving force in launching his third — and ultimately successful — bid for the White House.

“Now is the time for him to speak to the people of this country about what is at stake,” the senior White House official said, “what are the threats and what are the opportunities for the country to move forward together. as a democratic nation. ”

Aides said Biden will make it clear he thinks some mainstream Republicans reject Trump’s ideology, such as Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who lost a GOP primary after serving on the House Select Committee on Jan. 6. And the president will urge other GOP members to finally turn their backs on Trump.

Republicans are also looking to Pennsylvania to make their case for midterms. Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy gives a prebut to Biden’s Scranton speech and tried to turn the script on its head by saying Democratic policies are an “assault on democracy.” On Saturday, Trump will hold a “Save America” ​​rally to support Republicans he has backed, including gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano and Senate candidate Mehmet Oz. Mastriano, a Trump loyalist, has particularly helped lead the state’s efforts to overturn the 2020 race — a victory for him would put an election denier in control of certifying a state’s presidential voter roll key to the battlefield.

Biden, who is currently basking in the glow of a string of significant legislative victories, has has recently stepped up its attacks on Republicans. He sometimes calls Trump by name, citing Republican support for the Jan. 6 rioters and calling some GOP members “semi-fascists.” He was due to plead Thursday night, aides said, that democracy was not “an issue that should divide the two political parties,” according to the senior White House aide.

For Biden, the material and setting will be familiar.

He’s returned to Philadelphia time and time again for defining moments, using it as the backdrop to kick off the 2019 campaign that landed him in the White House. He returned there last summer for a fiery speech in defense of the right to vote.

Biden initially did not plan to run in 2020, but said he felt the nation’s identity and core values ​​were threatened by Trump’s conduct in office, including his equivocal response to the outburst. racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The phrase “battle for the soul of the nation” has dominated his rhetoric ever since, and Biden said the foundation of his presidency was to prove that democracies can still serve their people and stand up to rising autocracies around the world. He vowed to run to heal wounds opened by Trump’s tenure and became deeply dismayed, aides said, by the political polarization and anger that only deepened during his time in the White House.

In recent days, Biden and his top aides have been calling out the Republican response to the FBI’s search of Trump’s Palm Beach home. They note how some GOP lawmakers have called for defunding federal law enforcement while others have warned that violence could follow a possible Trump arrest. For Biden, it was just the latest transgression by a Republican party he has told aides he barely recognizes — one that has remained in Trump’s sway and pro-insurgency.

The speech, which is expected to last about 25 minutes, comes at a time of surprising political promise for Biden.

In recent weeks, gas prices have fallen, the Covid crisis has become less urgent and its domestic agenda has been gradually adopted. And his winning streak culminated in the resurrection of a $740 billion reconciliation bill that addressed longstanding Democratic priorities such as climate change, drug prices and corporate taxes.

His polls are at their highest in months and Democrats are growing optimistic about their chances of retaining the Senate and potentially even the House. And as Biden, 79, begins to ramp up his midterm campaign trip, the Philadelphia speech will be the second of three stops Biden will make in Pennsylvania this week alone.

The Keystone State blitz will culminate in what has become a totem for the president: the Labor Day Parade in Pittsburgh. Biden has walked there twice before when presidential speculation swirled around him, in 2015 and 2018. His appearance on Monday, aides concede, will be closely watched for any possible clues to a final campaign run.

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