In a rare primetime address, President Joe Biden accused former President Donald Trump and so-called "MAGA Republicans" of having an "extreme ideology" that effectively threatens "the very foundations of our republic."
Biden's appearance was promoted as an official, taxpayer-funded event, and the White House claimed it was not a political speech. His speech was held near Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in Pennsylvania, which was where the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted.
The 79-year-old U.S. leader credited the two documents for embodying the ideas of "equality and democracy," which he called "the rock upon which this nation is built," before declaring that "equality and democracy are under assault."
"Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic," Biden charged from behind bullet-proof glass. MAGA stands for "Make America Great Again," Trump's slogan in his successful 2016 presidential campaign.
"There is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country," the Democrat said.
He accused Trump and "MAGA Republicans" of being committed to "destroying American democracy," and called upon Democrats, independents, and what he called "mainstream Republicans" to "confront extremists" and be stronger than the MAGA group.
He also asked Americans to "come together" and "unite behind the single purpose of defending our democracy regardless of your ideology"—all while condemning what he called "the extreme MAGA ideology."
Biden said that he ran for the presidency in 2020 because he believed "we were in a battle for the soul of this nation."
Throughout his speech, Biden made altogether 31 references to "democracy." He also made 11 references to "violence," saying that it "can never be an acceptable [political] tool."
AccusationsIn his speech, Biden lobbied multiple criticisms and sweeping accusations against Trump and "MAGA Republicans" in an effort to paint them as extreme.
In one instance, he criticized them for having opinions including that the results of the 2020 presidential election were riddled with irregularities and widespread fraud, and that Trump was the true winner. He labeled such views as "wild conspiracy theories."
Biden also accused them of being "determined to succeed in thwarting the will of the people" in the upcoming midterms and the 2024 elections.
Biden also alleged that the individuals who breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and attacked law enforcement were being looked upon by the "MAGA Republicans" as patriots. Trump, his administration, and many Republican allies had condemned the violence at the U.S. Capitol in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
"MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards—backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love," Biden also said, in a sweeping statement referencing multiple social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, for which there are different regulations in different U.S. states.
Republican PushbackIn response to Biden's speech, Trump issued statements on his social media platform Truth Social late on Thursday, saying, in part: "If you look at the words and meaning of the awkward and angry Biden speech tonight, he threatened America, including with the possible use of military force."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote: "Angry man smears half of the people of the country he is supposed to lead & promised to unite."
Jeff Kaufman, the chair of the Iowa Republican Party, said that what Americans witnessed in Biden's speech "is a tactic used by authoritarian regimes."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said that Biden's speech was "divisive" and "angry," and accused Biden of being "only interested [in] pitting his fellow Americans against one another."