President Biden is expected to deliver a blistering attack on Republicans during a prime-time address from outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
Biden will journey to the birthplace of the U.S. Constitution Thursday to lay out what Democrats see as an indictment of the GOP.
The remarks are expected to be a darker version of the speech Biden often gave on the 2020 campaign trail, comparing the election to a battle for the “soul of the nation.”
Biden hinted at the tone and substance of the speech during a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Tuesday when accusing Republicans of abandoning the rule of law.
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“You hear some of my friends in the other team talking about political violence and how it’s necessary,” the president said. “No one should be encouraged to use political violence.”
Biden made similarly inflammatory remarks last week during a rally in Maryland. The president accused Republicans of becoming the party of “semi-fascism.” At that event, Biden went a step further by saying former President Trump and Republicans were a threat to not just “personal rights and economic security, they’re a threat to our very democracy.”
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The president’s prime-time address on Thursday is expected to expand on those attacks. Biden, in particular, is likely to paint the upcoming midterms as not just a contest between Democrats and Republicans, but an opportunity to rebuff extremism.
“We’re seeing now either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA agenda,” Biden said at the rally in Maryland last week. “America must choose. You must choose.”
The speech comes as Biden’s approval rating has increased slightly and Democrats are more optimistic about the midterms.
The morale boost results from Congress passing the White House’s $739 billion climate and tax legislation and a key victory for Democrats in a New York special election for a prime congressional swing seat.
“Biden’s popularity is rebounding, and he’s starting to feel his oats,” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic political strategist. “The national political environment seems to be turning against Republicans, and Democrats are feeling the momentum.”
It remains to be seen whether Biden’s line of attack will work.
Earlier this year, Biden’s fiery rebuke of GOP senators opposing his rewrite of the nation’s voting laws backfired. Even top Democrats were left saying the president may have gone “too far” by comparing Republican opponents to segregationists.
“These attacks don’t have a history of working,” said Richard Vatz, a professor at Towson University and author of a book on political messaging. “Politics is always filled with name-calling, but when it’s directed at a huge swath of the electorate, it winds up backfiring.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton learned that lesson the hard way during her 2016 presidential campaign when lambasting Trump supporters as “deplorables.” Such comments end up a misguided, fiery flop, according to political experts, because of partisan polarization.
“This rhetoric tries to attract moderate Republicans or Democrats, but usually doesn’t capture how they think,” said Vatz. “In Clinton’s case, people around her were probably speaking about Trump’s supporters in that manner, and she assumed that centrist Republicans felt the same way. But, in reality, it only served to gin up support for Trump among his base.”
Republicans say that Biden’s attacks are dangerous and only meant to distract the public from the perilous state of the economy.
“Joe Biden’s wretched attacks on millions of Americans have fueled attacks on pregnancy centers, Republican offices, and an assassination attempt on a Supreme Court Justice,” said Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. “Joe Biden is the divider-in-chief and epitomizes the current state of the Democrat Party: one of divisiveness, disgust and hostility towards half the country.”