Biden To Target ‘MAGA Republicans’ In Primetime Speech Over Threats To Democracy

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is expected to accuse Republicans of espousing an extreme ideology that threatens democracy during rare prime-time remarks Thursday as he steps up attacks on conservatives ahead of the midterm elections.

The speech at 8 p.m. ET from Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia will focus on the “battle for the nation’s soul,” the White House said — a phrase Biden has used since 2017 to rally opposition to former President Donald Trump and the Make America Great Again”.

“The MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards. Back to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry the one you love,” Biden plans to say, according to excerpts of the speech released by the White House.

“For too long, we’ve assured ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed. But it’s not. We must defend it. Protect it. Support it. Every one of us,” Biden plans to say.

In a preview of the speech, a senior government official said the president would speak against “a movement that doesn’t recognize free and fair elections, a movement that increasingly talks about violence in response to actions they don’t like or agree with, which is not the way democracies behave.” However, the official added that “it is not a speech about a particular politician or even a particular political party.”

However, Republicans offered their own response. Appearing hours earlier in Biden’s hometown of Scranton, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday accused the president of being divisive and called on him to apologize for calling Trump supporters at a recent campaign rally “quasi-fascists.”

“Instead of trying to bring our country together to solve these challenges, President Biden has chosen to divide, belittle and discredit his fellow Americans – simply because they disagree with his policies. That is not leadership,” said McCarthy, Republican of California.

“When the president speaks tonight at Independence Hall, the first line out of his mouth should be to apologize for defaming tens of millions of Americans as ‘fascists.’

McCarthy appeared with Jim Bognet, the Republican candidate trying to unseat Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., who represents Scranton. The GOP leader, who is the favorite for speaker if Republicans flip the House, argued that Biden has failed to fix inflation and supply chain issues, secure the southern border or address rising crime rates.

“Over the past two years, Joe Biden has launched an assault on America’s soul. To her people. For her laws. In his most sacred values,” McCarthy said. “He has launched an attack on our democracy.”

While the Biden administration is calling the remarks an official White House event, not a campaign event, the speech comes as the president steps up efforts to help Democrats retain control of Congress with the midterm elections just over two months away.

Biden likened Republicans who have embraced the MAGA philosophy central to Trump’s presidency to “semi-fascism” during a Democratic fundraiser last week.

During remarks earlier this week, also in Pennsylvania, Biden accused Republicans of failing to support law enforcement and the rule of law for their attacks on the FBI after the Mar-a-Lago investigation, their calls to defund the FBI and the reluctance of some in the party to condemn the January 6th rioters.

“What the president believes, which is one reason we have this in the first place, is that there is an overwhelming number of Americans, the majority of Americans, who believe that we must continue, we must save the core values ​​of our country. White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday. “What he’s not going to do is avoid calling out the extremism he sees, these MAGA Republicans.”

In a statement Thursday, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Rona McDaniel accused Biden and Democrats of pitting Americans against each other.

“Joe Biden is the master divider and epitomizes the current state of the Democratic Party: division, disgust and hostility toward half the country,” McDaniel said.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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