President Biden on Monday will visit swing states Wisconsin and Pennsylvania for his first public stops since giving a divisive anti-Donald Trump address in which he called “MAGA Republicans” a “threat to this country” and “the very foundations of our republic.”
Biden’s Labor Day tour of the Midwest follows his much-promoted Thursday speech on “the battle for the soul of the nation” in which he bashed Trump and his allies as anti-democratic agitators eager to override the will of voters in 2020 and future elections.
The president on Friday — taking his only question of the day from reporters — denied that he attacked all 74 million of Trump’s voters in the past election when he broadly swiped at “MAGA Republicans.”
“Come on, look, guys, you keep trying to make that case. I don’t consider any Trump supporter to be a threat to the country,” Biden said Friday.
“I do think anyone who calls for the use of violence, fails to condemn violence when it is used, refuses to acknowledge when an election has been won, insists upon changing the way in which they can count votes, that is a threat to democracy.”
Adding to his walk-back, Biden said, “When people voted for Donald Trump and support him now, they weren’t voting for attacking the Capitol, they weren’t voting for overruling an election, they were voting for a philosophy he put forward.”
But Biden’s rhetoric against Trump and his political movement has sharped for weeks, generally without a clear distinction between Trump-allied politicians and the voters who support them.
In his Thursday speech outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Biden said, “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
And last month, Biden said at a fundraiser in Maryland that support for Trump amounted to “semi-fascism.”
“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden said. “It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism.”
Trump was elected president in 2016 through narrow wins in the Midwest, including in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, before narrowly losing the states to Biden in 2020. If Trump seeks a rematch against Biden in 2024, the states would be critical to his comeback.
Trump headlined a rally Saturday in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where he slammed Biden and urged voters to support Republicans in this year’s midterm elections.
Trump said Biden’s “soul of the nation” speech was full of “hatred and anger” and even knocked the staging and “the red lighting behind him like the devil.”
“Joe Biden came to Philadelphia, Pa., to give the most vicious, hateful and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president, vilifying 75 million citizens,” Trump said. “You’re all enemies of the state. He’s an enemy of the state, if you want to know the truth.”
Trump added, “His speech was hatred and anger. By the way, the next morning, he forgot what he said. You saw that. They asked him about — ‘Oh, I didn’t think I said that. Did I? Oh no.’”