“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” said Biden in the 24-minute speech, per the New York Times. "Now, I want to be very clear, very clear up front. Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology. I know, because I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans. But there’s 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."
He went on to accuse “MAGA forces” of being determined to take the country “backwards to an America where this is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.” He accused the Republican party, and Trump in particular, of promoting “authoritarian leaders” who have “fanned the flames of political violence.”
The speech was made at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, where the president was flanked by Marine guards. The moment is one of Biden’s strongest denouncements of Trump and his brand of Republican populism since he took office last year. It comes just a week after he likened the “MAGA philosophy” to “semi-fascism.” Biden was at one point interrupted by protesters who yelled "let's go Brandon," a popular chant among Trump supporters.
“They’re entitled to be outrageous. This is a democracy," he said, appearing to address the vocal Trump supporters nearby. "But history and common sense—good manners is nothing they have ever suffered from—but history and common sense tell us that opportunity, liberty and justice for all are most likely to come to pass in a democracy. We have never fully realized the aspirations of our founding, but every generation has opened those doors a little bit wider to include more people who have been excluded before.”
Biden encouraged people to get out and vote in an effort to protect democracy. “For a long time, we’ve told ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed, but it’s not. We have to defend it, protect it, stand up for it, each and every one of us," he said. "That’s why tonight, I’m asking our nation to come together, unite behind the single purpose of defending our democracy regardless of your ideology. ... Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans, we must be stronger, more determined and more committed to saving American democracy. And MAGA Republicans are destroying American democracy."
Joe Biden’s more aggressive stance against Trump’s brand of Republican politics comes ahead of the midterms, and as the president’s popularity has improved followed legislative wins such as student loan forgiveness. Prior to his speech, Biden was accused by House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of trying to further the political divide in the country.
“In the past two years, Joe Biden has launched an assault on the soul of America, on its people, on its laws, on its most sacred values,” McCarthy said, per the Associated Press. “He has launched an assault on our democracy. His policies have severely wounded America’s soul, diminished America’s spirit and betrayed America’s trust.”