Biden to target ‘MAGA Republicans’ in prime-time speech Thursday

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is expected to accuse Republicans of supporting an extreme ideology that threatens democracy during rare prime-time remarks Thursday as he steps up attacks on conservatives ahead of the midterm elections.

The 8 p.m. ET speech from the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia will focus on the “battle for the soul of the nation,” the White House said — a phrase Biden has been using since 2017 to rally opposition to former President Donald Trump.

“He will talk about the direct threats to democracy from MAGA Republicans and the extremism that is a threat right now to our democratic values,” a senior administration official said Thursday on a call with reporters.

The president will speak out against “a movement that does not recognize free and fair elections, a movement that increasingly is talking about violence in response to actions that they don’t like or don’t agree with, which is not the way democracies behave,” the official added, while insisting that it is “not a speech about a particular politician, or even about a particular political party.”

Still, Republicans are planning their own retort. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will give a prebuttal Thursday from Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, on the president’s “assault on the soul of the nation.”

While the Biden administration is billing the remarks as an official White House event, not a campaign event, the speech comes as the president is stepping up efforts to help Democrats hang on to control of Congress with the midterm elections just over two months away.

Biden likened Republicans who have embraced the “Make America Great Again” philosophy central to Trump’s presidency to “semi-fascism” during a fundraiser for Democrats last week.

During remarks earlier this week, also in Pennsylvania, Biden accused Republicans of not being supportive of law enforcement and the rule of law for their attacks on the FBI following the search of Mar-a-Lago, their calls to defund the FBI, and the unwillingness by some in the party to condemn the Jan. 6 rioters.

“What the president believes, which is a reason to have this in prime time, is that there are an overwhelming number of Americans, the majority of Americans, who believe that we need to continue, we need to save the core values of our country,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday. “What he’s not going to do is shy away from calling out extremism that he is seeing, these MAGA Republicans.”

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