WASHINGTON — After President Biden spoke in Philadelphia about the threat facing the nation from “MAGA Republicans,” the White House defended his message — and the understated tones in which it was delivered — as a necessary reminder that former President Trump and his supporters threatened the American Republic.
At a summit on the coronavirus relief plan on Friday, Biden dismissed the idea that his issue was with Trump supporters or the Republican Party as a whole. The target of his criticism, he was “someone who calls for violence and fails to condemn violence.”
Biden and other Democrats have sought to make the 2022 midterm elections a choice not between two parties but between democracy and authoritarianism. Their strategy has been inadvertently aided by Republicans.
“Everything we stand for rests on the platform of democracy,” Biden added, a milder reiteration of Thursday’s message.
White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre also defended the president’s speech in a Friday afternoon briefing. “The defense of democracy is not politics. Denouncing political violence is not politics. Defending rights and freedom is not politics,” he argued.
Republicans and conservative media figures have attacked every aspect of the speech, from its setting to its content. “Joe Biden is the master divider and epitomizes the current state of the Democratic Party: divisive, disgusted and hostile to half the country.”
Such responses appeared to please Democrats, who saw the Republican disappointment as evidence that the speech—which contained no new policy proposals or introduced new executive branch initiatives—had achieved its intended goal of making clear to Americans that the returning Congress to Republican control in November would be a devastating decision from which democracy itself would never recover.
The Lincoln Project, a group formed by anti-Trump conservatives, hailed Biden’s speech as a “watershed moment,” expressing hope in Biden’s desire to “take on the destructive forces that threaten the nation.”
Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called the speech “one of the most important I’ve ever seen a president deliver.” that a primary threat to democracy now came from the “MAGA faction that incites violent insurgencies and rejects the rule of law.”
The speech also offered a preview of how Biden could run a re-election campaign in 2024, in which he is certain to face either Trump himself or an associate of the former president, such as Gov. Ron DeSanti of Florida or Senator Josh Hawley. of Missouri.
“It’s time to take a stand,” Jean-Pierre said on Friday, making it clear – without saying it explicitly, as he does – that such a stance should come to the polls in November. “It’s time to take action.”