President Joe Biden issued stark new warnings about ongoing threats to American democracy in a keynote address on Thursday. His potential rematch with Donald Trump, He was accused of trying to “destroy” the foundation American companies.
“Something dangerous has just happened in America. There is an extremist movement that does not share the fundamental beliefs of our democracy: the MAGA movement,” Biden said in Arizona, where he met the late Sen. He also honored John McCain.
“There is no question that today’s Republican Party is driven and threatened by MAGA Republican extremists,” he said, using Trump’s acronym for the political movement.
“Their radical agenda, if implemented, will fundamentally change American democratic institutions as we know them,” he said.
As accusations and arrests of former presidents piled up over the summer, Biden was mostly silent His predecessor was wary of appearing to meddle in judicial business. His most pointed comment on Trump’s myriad legal troubles was a sarcastic comment about his beating in Fulton County, Georgia.
But with Trump’s narrow lead in the Republican primary unchanged — and Biden’s own position mired in low approval ratings — the president is sharpening his attacks on his 2024 rival as a danger to democracy, and Thursday’s speech should serve as another sign that the days of the president’s allies trying to keep Trump at arm’s length are long gone. .
Stopping the erosion of democratic institutions and values will be central to Biden’s 2020 re-election campaign, officials said. Two men.
“Protecting democracy continues to be a central reason for Joe Biden’s presidency,” a senior White House official said.
Senior Biden advisers have pondered the timing and location of Thursday’s speech for weeks. Earlier, Biden tried to issue warnings using the iconic structures of Independence Hall and Gettysburg. The state of American democracy.
Before settling on Tempe, Arizona, as a way to honor the late Republican Sen. John McCain, whom Biden was friends with for decades and called “brother,” the advisers scouted sites on the East Coast that resemble American history. Biden announced funding to build the McCain Library in honor of his longtime friend.
Arizona was also at the center of Trump’s efforts to reverse the 2020 election results, and was the state where voters rejected candidates who disputed the results two years later. That effort will loom large in the president’s message, which is expected to highlight the importance of the constitution as the bedrock of democracy and the importance of separation of powers and checks and balances.
“It will focus on the importance of America’s institutions in protecting our democracy and the need for steadfast loyalty to the United States Constitution,” a White House official said ahead of the speech.
They also chose the day after the second Republican primary debate, hoping to insert Biden into a news cycle dominated by the GOP race. Trump skipped the debate and gave a speech in Michigan Biden’s support appears to be diminishing Among union workers.
The speech comes at a time of political uncertainty for Biden, as he continues to face questions about his age, his denials about his handling of the job and the allegations against his son Hunter. House Republicans plan to hold their first hearing in the impeachment inquiry against Biden on Thursday.
Many senior Democrats believe that once voters come to see the 2024 election as a contest between Biden and Trump, the stakes will become clearer and the incumbent president’s standing will improve.
Top Biden donors, who have bristled at more forceful attacks on Trump at this early stage of the campaign, were briefed on plans for Thursday’s speech by senior Biden advisers during a fundraising retreat in Chicago earlier this month. Biden began previewing his address to donors behind closed doors last week.
In those comments, Biden introduced new warnings about his predecessor’s possible return to the White House, testing material off-camera as he and his team prepared for Thursday’s address.
“Let there be no question: Donald Trump and his MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy American democracy. I will always protect, defend and fight for our democracy. That’s why I’m running,” he said at a Broadway theater last week.
Two days later, he expanded his warnings to a group of lawyers — and said he was confident he could defeat Trump for a second term.
“I’m running again now. Because guess what? I think I might be the same guy, and I think I can beat him again,” he said.
Biden allies believe that protecting democracy still resonates deeply with voters nearly three years after the 2020 race. The video announcing his re-election opens with footage of the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, Biden delivered a rousing message in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, warning against the “MAGA forces that tried last time to take away the votes of 81 million people.” Ahead of the speech, Biden assembled his communications staff with a panel of academics and historians — including Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Meacham, who helped draft his high-profile addresses — to reflect on the union’s fragile state and gather ideas.
The White House is in contact with many of those historians to continue to develop ideas, but officials do not know if Biden has held a formal meeting to help draft the speech.
But Democrats say the message worked. The administration and national Democrats touted the results of the 2022 midterm elections, and the so-called red tide that many predicted never materialized, as evidence that the president focused on themes like preserving democracy.
The day after Election Day last year, Biden told a news conference: “It’s a good day for democracy, I think.”
“Our democracy has been tested in recent years, but the American people have spoken and proven once again that democracy is who we are with their votes,” he said.
Thursday’s remarks are being billed by the White House as the president’s fourth major speech on the theme of democracy — Biden addressed the issue just days before the midterm elections, marking the one-year anniversary of last year’s Jan. 6 uprising.
In a speech to Democratic donors in Silicon Valley on Tuesday evening, Biden hit back at Trump’s actions during the attempted coup — now the subject of multiple criminal charges.
“If you ever come to the Oval Office, I’ll show you the dining room where the other guy sat for hours,” he said.
By honoring McCain during his speech on Thursday, Biden hoped to create an era of bipartisanship in Washington that has disappeared in recent years. The comparison is amplified given the ongoing battle over government funding, which looks set to lead to a government shutdown by the end of the week.
A White House official noted that Arizona has been a swing state between Democratic and Republican leadership.
“President Biden will speak about his belief that we must not walk away from the sacrifices that Americans have made for generations to protect our democracy,” the official said.
McCain’s widow Cindy, other members of the McCain family and Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs attended the speech.
However, Kirsten Sinema, one of the state’s senators – He was a Democrat until he left the party last year Biden said he wanted to use his visit to Arizona to observe the situation on the southern border — to become an independent.
“It’s long past time for President Biden to see the border crisis firsthand and for the administration to do its job, protect the border and keep Arizona safe. While he’s in Arizona, I invite him to visit the border to understand how our communities are bearing the brunt of his administration’s failure to address this crisis. ” he said in a statement.
McCain’s death was deeply personal and painful for Biden for several reasons, including McCain’s having the same cancer that claimed the life of Biden’s son Beau. After laying a wreath near the site where McCain’s plane was shot down in Hanoi this month, Biden said he missed his former Senate colleague.
“He’s a good friend,” Biden said.
In his eulogy for McCain in the summer of 2018, Biden described his friend as “living by a different code — an ancient, primitive code where honor, courage, integrity, duty were alive.”
This story has been updated with additional information.