ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — President Joe Biden on Thursday called on Democrats “to vote to literally save democracy again” in the midterm elections — and compared Republican ideology to “semi-fascism” — while leading a launch rally and fundraiser in Maryland.
Watch Biden’s remarks in the player above.
Addressing an overflowing crowd of thousands at Montgomery High School in Rockville, Biden said, “Your right to choose is on the ballot this year. The social security you have paid since you took up employment is listed on the ballot. Your children’s safety from gun violence is on the ballot, and this is no hyperbole, the very survival of our planet is on the ballot.
“You have to choose,” Biden added. “Will we be a country moving forward or a country going backwards?
The events, in the safe, Democratic suburb of Washington, were intended to facilitate Biden in what White House aides say will be an aggressive season of defending his political victories and helping his party’s candidates. It aims to turn months of legislative achievement into political energy as Democrats saw their hopes rebound amid a burst of action defining the legacy of Biden and Congress.
From bipartisan action on gun control, infrastructure and national tech manufacturing to Democrat-only efforts to tackle climate change and health care costs, Biden highlighted the achievements of unified but extremely thin of the party on Washington. And he tried to sharpen the contrast with Republicans, who once seemed poised for big wins in November.
Just a few months ago, with inflation soaring, Biden’s poll numbers deteriorating and his platform stalled, Democrats braced for major losses. But intense voter reaction to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and a productive summer on issues of fundamental concern to Democrats have the party feeling like it’s finally on the offensive before the November 8 vote, even as the president remains unpopular.
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Democrats, Biden pollster John Anzalone said, are “in a better position to compete because Joe Biden put us there.”
“That doesn’t mean we have the wind at our backs,” he added. “But we have more breeze than what looked like a gale hurricane on our face.”
Before the rally, Biden raised about $1 million at an event with about 100 donors for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund in the backyard of a lavish Bethesda home.
Biden’s Thursday events come a day after the president decided to fulfill a long-delayed campaign promise to cancel federal student loans for low- and middle-income borrowers – a move Democrats say will animate voters younger and black and Latino.
Republicans, however, saw their own political advantage in the decision, presenting it as an unfair giveaway to would-be Democratic voters.
“President Biden’s inflation is crushing working families, and his response is to give even more government money to elites with higher wages,” said Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell. “The Democrats are literally using American working people’s money to try to buy some enthusiasm from their political base.”
Biden has expanded his efforts to portray Republicans as the ‘ultra-MAGA’ party – a reference to former President Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign slogan – opposing his agenda and embracing ideological proposals. conservatives, and Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election.
“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the end of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden told donors at the fundraiser. “It’s not just Trump, it’s the whole philosophy behind the — I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism.”
“I respect conservative Republicans,” Biden said later. “I don’t respect these MAGA Republicans.”
The Republican National Committee called Biden’s comments “despicable.”
“Biden forced Americans out of their jobs, funneled money from working families to Harvard lawyers, and plunged our country into a recession as families can’t afford gas and oil. ‘groceries,” spokesman Nathan Brand said. “Democrats don’t care about Americans suffering – they never have.”
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Since the Supreme Court’s June ruling, Democrats have seen an increase in donations, polls and special election performances for open seats in Congress. The latest came on Tuesday in a swinging Hudson Valley district that, in a Republican wave year, should have been an easy GOP victory. Instead, Ulster County Democratic executive Pat Ryan, who campaigned on an abortion rights platform, beat his Duchess County Republican counterpart, Marc Molinaro.
“MAGA Republicans have no idea the power of women,” Biden said, noting the resonance of the abortion issue with female voters as some GOP members push for a nationwide ban on the procedure in the wake of of the Supreme Court’s decision. “Let me tell you something: they’re about to find out.”
The change gives Democrats a new sense that a Republican House sweep is no longer such a safe bet, especially since polls are better than Biden and battle-tested incumbents are working in their districts.
Meanwhile, Democrats have taken advantage of Republican candidates who won the primaries but struggled in the overall campaign. Trump-backed Senate candidates have complicated the GOP’s chances in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, while several Trump-aligned candidates in House races weren’t always the party’s first choice.
Trump’s grip on the GOP remains strong and may have even tightened following the FBI’s raid of his Mar-a-Lago home.
JB Poersch, chairman of the Senate Majority Project, an outside group that works to elect Democrats to the Senate, said Republican candidates “are getting caught up in the Trump tornado once again – that’s exactly what voters of both parties do not”. want to.”
Biden’s political event, sponsored by the Democratic National Committee, comes as the president and members of his cabinet are set to embark on what the White House has billed as the “Building a Better America Tour” for promote “the benefits of the President’s achievements and the Inflation Reduction Act to the American people and emphasize the contrast with the view of Congressional Republicans.
Meanwhile, the White House has benefited from a steady decline in gasoline prices, which, while still high, have fallen daily since mid-June.
“Our critics say inflation,” Biden said, dismissing GOP attacks that his policies had driven inflation to its highest level in 40 years. “You mean global inflation caused by the global pandemic and Putin’s war in Ukraine?
In Maryland, Biden was joined by gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore and a host of other officials on the ballot. Moore, introducing Biden, said his Trump-backed rival “Dan Cox is not an adversary. He’s a threat.
Months ago, Democratic lawmakers facing tough re-election fights sought to make themselves scarce when Biden arrived in town, though White House aides said Biden was still an asset to them by raising the odds. issues that resonate with voters and sharpening the distinction with Republicans.
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Now allies see fortunes beginning to change and the president as a direct asset to the campaigns.
“Technically, Joe Biden is not the ballot,” said House Majority Leader Representative Steny Hoyer. “But Joe Biden is on the ballot, and Joe Biden needs your support.”
Cedric Richmond, the former Louisiana congressman and Biden’s senior adviser who now advises the Democratic National Committee, said if he was a candidate he would rush to have Biden on his side.
“I would get in front of the van and become the drum major and talk about all the accomplishments that happened under Biden’s leadership,” Richmond said Wednesday. “You have a president who keeps his head down and gets the job done and I think voters, as we kick off this campaign, will see that and appreciate that.”
He acknowledged that some Democrats might choose not to “bring Washington into their district.”
“There are probably a few instances where it might make sense when you don’t even want to be associated with Washington,” Richmond said. “It has nothing to do with the president. It has everything to do with typical Washington dysfunction.
He added, “The important point to make is that you don’t have this dysfunction right now because of President Biden.”
PA Congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro and PA writer Nicholas Riccardi contributed to this report.