Biden seeks to separate ‘mainstream’ Republicans from ‘Trumpies’ in Wisconsin speech

President Joe Biden continued to add texture Monday to a recent series of criticisms of “MAGA Republicans,” the far-right wing of the party that he has sought to distinguish from the more moderate, “mainstream” GOP.

“I want to be very clear up front: Not every Republican is a MAGA Republican,” Biden said at a Labor Day event in Wisconsin. “Not every Republican embraces this extreme ideology. I know because I’ve been able to work with mainstream Republicans throughout my career.”

However, he continued: “The extreme MAGA Republicans in Congress have chosen to back down, full of anger, violence, hatred and division. But together we can – and must – choose a different way forward.”

The comments came after a series of appearances in recent days in which the president campaigned hard against the most “extreme” parts of the GOP. In the most pointed remark, he called former President Donald Trump’s philosophy “quasi-fascism” at an event for Democratic donors late last month.

Biden placed Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican candidate to retain his Wisconsin midterm seat, squarely in the “MAGA” camp.

“The biggest contrast between these MAGA Republicans, the far right, the Trumps. … These MAGA Republicans in Congress are coming for your Social Security,” Biden said, calling out Johnson and Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, chairman of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee.

A protester briefly interrupted as Biden spoke about the political “battle for America’s soul,” a phrase the president used last week in reference to perceived threats to democracy from the right.

“Let him go. Everyone’s entitled to be stupid,” Biden said after security grabbed the protester.

Biden traveled to the Milwaukee Laborfest on Monday in what was billed as a Labor Day celebration of “the dignity of the American worker.”

The holiday also marks the unofficial start of the fall election campaign, leading up to November’s midterm elections. Wisconsin was one of two politically critical states Biden planned to visit on Monday. He was also expected to stop in Pittsburgh later in the day, marking his third visit to Pennsylvania in a week.

In his speech in Milwaukee, Biden credited workers with his political victories, from his first election to the Senate to the most recent presidential election.

“The middle class built America. Everyone knows that. But unions built the middle class,” Biden said, raising his voice to cheers from the Laborfest crowd.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who is running for re-election against a Trump-backed Republican opponent, Tim Michels, helped introduce Biden.

Mandela Barnes, who is running against Johnson in November, was not at the event. However, he received a shout-out from Biden as “the next United States senator.”

“This guy never stops,” Biden said of Johnson in his speech, lamenting the senator’s stance on health care policy against the Affordable Care Act. “But guess what. I’m not stopping either.”

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