U.S. President Joe Biden warned on Wednesday that U.S. democracy is under attack from campaign opponents at all levels, as he tries to make defending it a priority in next week’s midterm elections.
“This intimidation, this violence against Democrats, Republicans and independent officials is just lies for power and profit, conspiracy and malicious lies, lies repeated over and over to create a cycle of anger, hatred , vitriol and even violence,” Biden said. “At this moment, we must confront those lies with the truth, and the future of our country depends on it.”
The speech — a political event hosted by the Democratic National Committee, not the White House — underscores a point Biden has been making in the weeks since his prime-time speech in Philadelphia. The speech, which covered many of the same topics the president touched on Wednesday night, was criticized by Republicans and others for being too politicized and inappropriate for an official White House event.
The speech was set near Capitol Hill and was meant to be a reference to the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which was designed to interrupt the proof of Biden’s victory.
The president’s advisers told CNN that Biden and his team have been considering speaking on the topic — but their decisions and thinking in recent days have been shaped by what they see as a surge in anti-government sentiment. – Democratic rhetoric and threats of violence.
One recent headline in particular has deeply alarmed Biden and his top advisers: Authorities say last week’s violent attack on Paul Pelosi was politically motivated.
The shocking home invasion and attack on Pelosi put the 82-year-old in hospital for surgery and has since been recovering from a fractured skull and other injuries.
Advisers said before the speech that Biden felt it was important for him to directly condemn the threats and acts of violence. He also wants to speak directly to election deniers, they said, in part against Republican elected officials and candidates who have publicly indicated they may reject the results of next week’s upcoming election.
The theme of protecting the soul of the nation — and the backbone of the nation’s democratic institutions — is at the heart of Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. The president has since addressed these topics throughout his presidency, but Wednesday’s speech will mark an effort to underscore what’s at stake heading into the midterms.
Defending democracy has been a vivid ideological feature of Biden this political season and is enriched in his off-camera conversations with Democrats. A day before his speech in Washington, Biden warned a group of Democratic donors in Florida that “democracy is on the ballot” this year — and offered some previews of his message a day later.
“How can you say you actually care about democracy when you deny that victory exists? The only way you can win is to win or the other side cheats,” he said at an event in the waterfront backyard of a mansion in Gold Beach, Florida. Say.
“It hasn’t happened since the Civil War. It sounds like an exaggeration, but it hasn’t happened since, as bad as it is now,” he said.
It seems no coincidence that Biden mentioned the Civil War. He was seen this week with a copy of historian Jon Meacham’s new book, “There’s Light: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Struggle,” which explores how America’s 16th president faced division and struggled with democracy. threat.
Meacham was an informal adviser to Biden and helped write some of his most high-profile speeches.
Biden mentioned the attack on Paul Pelosi in his speech at the Florida fundraiser and said it was not surprising given the Republican rhetoric. The attack on the House speaker’s husband was one reason Biden decided to deliver the speech on Wednesday, officials said, even though plans have been in the works for some time.
“Look at the Republicans’ reaction — the so-called reaction — to joke about it and/or say, ‘Well, you know, it’s not because of what was said and what wasn’t said,'” Biden said of the attack Say.
“The reason people do what they’re doing — in a population as large as ours, there are a lot of unstable people. When they hear these outrageous lies every day — these outrageous lies about everything,” Biden said .
“Why are you surprised?” he asked. “This guy bought a hammer to hit No. 1. 3 pick to be President of the United States of America – no. I should say, No. 2, to be… President of the United States of America. No one in that party would be the condemn it at face value.”
Biden had previously made a bet two months ago to travel to Philadelphia, where he delivered an urgent rebuke to former President Donald Trump and those who align with his attempts to undermine democracy.
“As I stand here tonight, equality and democracy are under attack,” Biden said at the time. “We’re not going to pretend we’re not doing ourselves any favors.”
Biden strongly warned at the time of what he called “extremism that threatens the foundations of our republic.”