President Joe Biden on Thursday delivered a prime-time address slamming Donald Trump and his MAGA adherents’ “extreme ideology” as a “threat to the very foundation of our republic,” and calling on Americans of all stripes to help counter what he defined as dark forces within the Republican Party trying to subvert democracy.
“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal,” Biden said before an audience of hundreds gathered at the Philadelphia Independence Hall.
“Equality and democracy are under assault” in the U.S., Biden charged, casting Trump and his backers in the GOP as a menace to the nation’s system of government, its standing abroad and its citizens’ way of life.
The president said he wasn’t condemning the 74 million people who voted for Trump in 2020, but added, “There’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans.”
Trump and the MAGA Republicans “promote authoritarian leaders and they fan the flames of political violence,” he said. They “are determined to take this country backwards.”
“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,” he said, referencing the social issues that Democrats have looked to place front-and-center for voters this fall.
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 summertime legislative wins and wary of Trump’s return to the headlines, he has sharpened his attacks, last week likening the “MAGA philosophy” to “semi-fascism.”
Delivering a preemptive rebuttal from Scranton, Pennsylvania, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said it is the Democratic president, not Republicans, trying to divide Americans.
“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,” McCarthy 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.”
Responding to McCarthy’s remarks, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “we understand we hit a nerve” with the GOP leader, and quoted the Republican’s prior statements saying Trump bore responsibility for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.