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Biden says ‘extremist’ Trump allies threaten American democracy


Biden says ‘extremist’ Trump allies threaten American democracy
United States president Joe Biden delivers remarks on what he calls the “continued battle for the Soul of the Nation” in front of Independence Hall at Independence National Historical Park on Thursday in Philadelphia - Reuters

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Philadelphia – United States president Joe Biden charged Republican allies of Donald Trump with undermining the country’s democracy and urged voters on Thursday to reject extremism ahead of November’s mid-term elections.

Biden accused lawmakers and others devoted to the Make America Great Again (MAGA) agenda led by former U.S. president Trump as willing to overturn democratic elections, ignore the Constitution, and “determined to take this country backwards” to a time without rights to abortion, privacy, contraception, or same-sex marriage.

“Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” Biden said. “As I stand here, equality and democracy are under assault. We do ourselves no favour to pretend otherwise.”

The prime-time speech in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy, marked a sharp turn for Biden as mid-term congressional elections approach.

Aides said the president is increasingly concerned about anti-democratic trends in the Republican Party and sees a need to jump into this year’s election fight and recast the stakes of his own 2024 re-election bid.

After spending much of this year trying to combat high inflation at home, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and enduring two bouts of COVID-19 over the summer, Biden has in recent days repeatedly lashed out at Trump-aligned Republicans.

His remarks on Thursday denouncing political violence and urging bi-partisan compromise came after speeches in recent days when he condemned MAGA philosophy as “semi-fascism” and assailed Republican threats against the FBI after a search of Trump’s Florida home as “sickening”.

House of Representatives Republican leader Kevin McCarthy accused Biden on Thursday of ignoring crime and inflation to criticise his fellow citizens.

Biden spoke in Philadelphia from behind bullet-proof glass and within earshot of chanting Trump-supporting protesters.

He made his remarks at a venue meant to signal the historical significance of his appeal, near Independence Hall, where the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution were adopted.

Some historians and legal scholars have cast the stakes in stark terms, saying free elections and commitment to the rule of law hang in the balance.

They say losing Congress will not only make Biden a lame-duck president, but also turn over control of certifying the results of the next presidential election to Trump sympathisers, some of whom never accepted Biden’s 2020 victory and who have pledged to overhaul voting systems.