WASHINGTON – Days before the midterm elections, President Joe Biden will amplify his argument that democracy itself is at stake, delivering an evening speech amid growing fears about political violence..
Biden will note that next Tuesday’s election is the first since an angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“I wish I could say the assault on our democracy ended that day. But I cannot,” he is expected to say, according to excerpts of his speech released in advance.
Biden will point out there are candidates running for every level of office – for Congress, for attorney general, for secretary of state – who won’t commit to accepting the election results.
“That is the path to chaos in America,” he will say. “It’s unprecedented. It’s unlawful. And it is un-American. As I’ve said before, you can’t love your country only when you win.”
Biden chose a venue near the U.S. Capitol for his remarks because “thatis where there was an attempt to subvert our democracy,” White House senior adviser Anita Dunn said in announcing the event during a live Axios interview Wednesday.
“The president, again, is making this speech because we’re seeing an alarming number of Republican officials who are saying, they’re being very clear, they’re not going to accept the results of these elections,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “That’s a problem.”
“The idea that you would use violence to further your political means, it’s something that unites almost all Americans and that we can all be united against,” she said about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
In October, Biden said the evidence gathered by the congressional committee examining the attack has been “devastating.”
“I mean, the case has been made, it seems to me fairly overwhelming,” Biden said when asked about the committee’s last meeting.
Concerns about political violence have increased in advance of the Nov. 8 election and after the hammer attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband at their San Francisco home.
“He’s speaking because he wants to make sure that he’s loud and clear…these are not normal times,” Jean-Pierre said.
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Focus on election deniers
In the 7 p.m. speech at Union Station, Biden will “address the threat of election deniers and those who seek to undermine faith in voting and democracy,” according to an announcement from the Democratic National Committee.
He will also emphasize that the votes will take a few days to be counted “because that’s how democracy works,” said Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s deputy chief of staff.
More than 340 candidates who will be on the ballot Nov. 8 have expressed false claims that the 2020 election was flawed, according to the Brookings Institution. All are Republicans.
The biggest danger to democracy researchers found was potential changes in who can certify elections, taking it out of the hands of election bureaucrats and giving it political bodies like the state legislation
“This is extraordinarily dangerous,” said Brookings senior fellow Elaine Kamarck.
On the ballot:Hundreds of elections deniers running for office nationwide in 2022 pose ‘major threat’ to U.S. democracy
An overwhelming 85% of Americans say they are very or somewhat worried about democracy’s future, according to a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll conducted in late October.
Those who say they are “very worried” include 67% of Republicans, 55% of Democrats and 51% of independents.
The nature of those concerns differ and sometimes conflict.
In follow-up phone interviews with those who were surveyed, Republicans tended to express concern about Democrats being able to cast fraudulent ballots. Democrats tended to express concern about results being misrepresented or overturned by Republican officials responsible for counting them.
`Battle for the soul of the nation’
Biden framed his 2020 presidential bid as a “battle for the soul of the nation.” He returned to that theme in a September speech outside Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, known as the birthplace of American democracy and where Biden launched his 2020 presidential campaign.
He accused former President Donald Trump and “MAGA Republicans” of representing “an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
Witness testimony:Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes typed message to Trump after Jan. 6
Dunn said Biden will be speaking Wednesday to “people who don’t agree with him on any issues, who don’t agree on his agenda” because “we really can unite behind this idea, this fundamental value of democracy.”
Unlike Republicans, who have focused relentlessly on economic and public safety issues in their campaign messages, Democrats have talked about a variety of issues. During a Florida trip Tuesday, Biden emphasized the differences between the parties on Social Security and Medicare. When he visits New Mexico on Thursday, the president will tout his actions to forgive up to $20,000 of student loan debts. Republican-led states are among the critics suing to stop that effort.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, complained about his party’s messaging in a CBS interview that aired Tuesday.
“We’re getting crushed on narrative,” Newsom said on the “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell.” “We’re going to have to do better in terms of getting on the offense and stop being on the damn defense.”
How to watch
Biden’s remarks will be streamed live on C-SPAN and USA TODAY’s YouTube channel.
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