What were the main talking points in President Biden’s prime time speech to the nation?
The address from Philadelphia’s Independence Hall warned of the damage that Trump and MAGA supporters could do to American democracy.
President Joe Biden took aim at Donald Trump and his legion of ‘Make American Great Again’ supporters in an impassioned speech on Thursday evening.
Speaking from the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, Biden spoke of the threat to democracy if election fraud lies misinformation continue to be fed to the population. The White House had trailed the address as a non-political call for a return to normality, but the President specifically criticised the “MAGA forces [who] are determined to take this country backwards.”
Here’s three key takeaways from Thursday’s speech…
Biden draws a distinction between MAGA and the GOP
Eager to avoid accusations of partisan point-scoring, Biden recounted times when he had enjoyed working with Republican colleagues in Congress. He called for unity across the country, but drew sharp distinction between the Grand Old Party and section that is today aligned with Donald Trump.
He made clear that he did not want to condemn all 74 million people who voted for Trump in the 2020 presidential election, saying: “Not every Republican, not even a majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans.”
“But there’s no question,” Biden added, “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.”
Continued threat to election integrity
In the days immediately after the 2020 election Biden opted to largely remain above the fray as his opponent claimed to be the victim of a huge conspiracy that would cost him the White House. Trump’s claims were, of course, entirely fictitious and eventually Biden was forced to openly condemn his predecessor for dangerous lies.
That was the Biden who emerged on stage on Thursday, angry at the damage that Trump has caused to the instruments of democracy and faith in elections in the United States. He made clear his belief that democracy is not guaranteed in America, and is currently subject to attack by Trump.
“Democracy cannot survive when one side believes there are only two outcomes to an election: Either they win, or they were cheated. And that’s where the MAGA Republicans are today,” he said.
“For a long time,” Biden continued, “we 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.”
Biden willing to point to culprits
Although most of his speech referenced the “battle for the soul of the nation” more generally, at points Biden did take aim squarely at the man who occupied the Oval Office before him.
As well as claiming that Trump “dominated” and “intimidated” the GOP, Biden said: “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
He went on to address MAGA devotees in Congress, saying: “There are public figures… predicting and all but calling for mass rioting and violence in the streets.”
Earlier this week Sen. Lindsey Graham warned of “riots in the streets” if the Justice Department were to prosecute Trump for mishandling classified materials. The FBI search of Trump’s Mar-A-Lago home found 184 unique documents bearing classified markings, including 25 rated Top Secret.