Biden targets ‘extremist’ Trump allies as a Democratic menace at a tense political second

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PHILADELPHIA, Sept 1 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden accused Republican allies of Donald Trump of undermining the country’s democracy and urged voters on Thursday to reject extremism ahead of November’s midterm elections.

Biden accused lawmakers and others committed to the Make America Great Again (MAGA) agenda led by former US President Trump of being willing to overturn democratic elections, ignoring the Constitution and “being determined to protect this country backwards” to a time without abortion rights and privacy, contraception or same-sex marriage.

“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” Biden said. “As I stand here tonight, equality and democracy are being attacked.

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The prime-time speech in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy, marked a sharp turning point for Biden as midterm congressional elections drew near.

Advisors say the president is increasingly concerned about anti-Democratic tendencies in the Republican Party and sees the need to dive into this year’s campaign and reset the stakes for his own reelection bid in 2024.

After spending much of 2022 battling high domestic inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and weathering two bouts of COVID-19 over the summer, Biden has repeatedly come close to Trump in recent days Republicans struck. Continue reading

His comments on Thursday, in which he denounced political violence and urged a bipartisan compromise, came after speeches in recent days condemning the MAGA philosophy as “half-fascism” and Republican threats against the FBI following a search of Trump’s home attacked as “disgusting” in Florida.

Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Thursday accused Biden of ignoring crime and inflation to criticize his fellow citizens.

“Rather than trying to bring our country together to solve these challenges, President Biden has chosen to divide, humiliate and belittle his fellow Americans,” McCarthy said in Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. “Why? Simply because they disagree with his policies.”

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on what he calls the ‘continued struggle for the soul of the nation’ outside Independence Hall at Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, USA September 1, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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According to a Democratic fundraiser, donors will be closely monitoring Biden’s performance over the next few months to gauge whether to support him in a 2024 presidential election.

Some have already decided that 79-year-old Biden should step down to make way for new leadership, while others want to see if he can lead the party effectively.

“If we can pull through and keep the Senate, there will be enough voices saying he deserves it and paving the way for re-election,” said a senior Democratic official. “If we don’t do that, the overwhelming feeling is going to be, ‘Pass the torch on.'”

FREE ELECTIONS IN DANGER?

Biden spoke from behind bulletproof glass and within earshot of pro-Trump protesters in Philadelphia. He made his remarks at a location meant to signal the historic importance of his appeal, near Independence Hall, where the US Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were passed.

Some historians and legal scholars have thrown the stakes in harsher terms than Biden’s political future, saying free elections and a commitment to the rule of law are at stake.

They say losing Congress would not only make Biden a lame president, but also hand over control of certifying the results of the next presidential election to Trump sympathizers, some of whom never accepted Biden’s 2020 victory and who have pledged to overhaul the electoral systems.

Alluding to the concerns, Biden said, “I will not stand by and see elections stolen in this country by people who simply refuse to accept that they have lost.”

The speech reflected Biden’s signing of the 2020 campaign pledge to restore the “nation’s soul” and implicitly eliminate the values ​​associated with Trump. In the nearly two years since Biden’s election, Republican voters have mostly backed candidates aligned with the former president; more than half believe Trump deservedly won the election.

Faced with threats after Trump’s defeat, one in five poll workers surveyed this year said they could quit before the next presidential election. Continue reading

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Reporting by Steve Holland in Philadelphia and Trevor Hunnicutt and Jarrett Renshaw in Washington Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Tyler Clifford in Washington Editing by Heather Timmons, Jonathan Oatis and Matthew Lewis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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