President Joe Biden criticized the philosophy behind his predecessor, Donald Trump, at a fundraiser Thursday, saying the MAGA movement embraced by large parts of the Republican Party resembles “semi-fascism.”
The president, speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in Maryland, called out “extreme” Republicans and said he was concerned about the state of democracy in America. Biden added that he wasn’t sure if the GOP’s hard-right tilt was coming to an end or just beginning, warning those gathered to vote in November’s midterm elections to reject the “ultra MAGA agenda,” referring to Trump’s “Make America Great.” Again” mantra.
“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden said. “It’s not just Trump, it’s the whole philosophy behind the… I’ll say something, it’s like semi-fascism.”
Biden went on to say that he didn’t realize how damaging Trump’s tenure in the White House was to the country’s international standing when he first entered the Oval Office. Those remarks marked some of his sharpest comments aimed at the Republican establishment.
“I underestimated how much damage they had done in the previous four years in terms of America’s reputation in the world,” the president said, before adding that he remained hopeful those losses could be recovered.
“I think there’s nothing America can’t do if we put our minds to it,” Biden said.
President Joe Biden speaks during a rally hosted by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) at Richard Montgomery High School on August 25, 2022 in Rockville, Maryland. Biden rallied supporters for Democratic candidates in Maryland and to encourage Democratic voters nationally to turn out in November’s midterm elections. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) (Photo by Drew Angerer via Getty Images)
The White House is hoping to ride a series of policy victories into November’s election, including the landmark inflation-reduction law passed earlier this month and its decision to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for millions of Americans. Democrats also hope to capitalize on nationwide anger over GOP efforts to limit abortion access and voting rights and fend off Republican efforts to take control of each chamber of Congress.
Biden this week began a nationwide tour to support Democratic candidates running for Congress and local offices. He warned Republican supporters that they would not rest on their recent victories after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, but would continue to attack other civil liberties, including same-sex marriage.
“It’s no exaggeration now you have to vote to literally save democracy again,” the president told a crowd at the Democratic National Committee event on Thursday, according to Reuters reports. “America must choose. You have to choose. If our country will go forward or backward.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.