In fiery remarks on Thursday night that set out a combative platform for Democrats ahead of the midterm elections, Joe Biden decried Republican loyalty to Donald Trump’s political brand as “semi-fascism”.
The US president delivered a barbed speech in Maryland, calling out Trump as a threat to US democracy and decrying his penchant for embracing political violence and stoking anger.
Biden went further at a $1m fundraiser in a wealthy suburb on the outskirts of Washington DC, before the campaign rally, condemning Republicans’ current political ideology as approaching “semi-fascism”.
“Trump and the extreme Maga Republicans have made their choice – to go backwards full of anger, violence, hate and division,” Biden told several thousand supporters at an event hosted by the Democratic National Committee at Richard Montgomery high school, nodding to Trump’s Make America Great Again (Maga) campaign slogan.
The campaign rally kicked off a nationwide White House effort aimed at bolstering Democrats ahead of the midterm elections in November, as Biden and Democrats alike attempted to capitalize on frustration among voters.
Chief among standout themes for Democrats are the US supreme court’s decision to overturn longstanding abortion protections, the recent passage of a historic climate, tax and healthcare package, and the White House’s decision to cancel millions of Americans’ student loan debt.
All of this happens against the backdrop of a high-profile congressional investigation arguing that Trump, while in office, incited an “attempted coup” at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021, as he struggled to stay in office despite his defeat by Biden in the 2020 election.
During Thursday’s speech, Biden touted recent accomplishments and argued that Trump and Republicans increased the federal deficit by $2tn in tax cuts while Biden and Democrats reduced it with the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.
He described a rocky political terrain following the supreme court’s overturning of the landmark 1973 abortion case Roe v Wade, where Republican-controlled states have now put trigger laws into effect that prevent women obtaining an abortion there.
If Republicans took control of Congress in the midterms, Biden argued, women “won’t have the right to choose anywhere”. He vowed to veto legislative attempts by Republicans to further restrict abortion access at the federal level.
But if Democrats kept their wafer-thin control of the Senate and also kept the House, Biden pledged to offer a different “vision of a better America” providing voters turned out in November and make sure “no one ever has the opportunity to steal an election again”.
Biden warned on Thursday that “Democrats, independents and mainstream Republicans” needed to coalesce to push back against Trump-backed Republicans who, he noted, “refuse to accept the will of the people”.
“America must choose. You must choose,” Biden told supporters. “Whether our country will move forward or backward.”
Earlier, Biden met Democratic donors for a $1m party fundraiser in a backyard in a leafy neighborhood north of Washington.
Strolling with a handheld mic, Biden detailed the tumult facing the US and the world from the climate crisis. He spoke about economic upheaval and the future of China and was strongly critical of the direction of the Republican party.
“We’re seeing now either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme Maga agenda. It’s not just Trump … It’s almost semi-fascism,” he said.
Republicans are hoping to ride voter discontent with inflation, questions about Biden’s policies and cultural resentment from its majority white base to victory in November.
The party that controls the White House usually loses seats in Congress in a new president’s first midterm elections.