Joe Biden has slammed extreme factions within the Republican Party, as the US president addressed Democrat supporters at his first campaign rally before the crucial upcoming midterm elections.
Speaking to party supporters in the state of Maryland on Thursday, Biden spoke on the need to save the country from the “semi-fascism” of Donald Trump’s Republicans and prevent those “extremist” Republicans from taking control of Congress in the November 8 vote.
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“It’s not hyperbole now you need to vote to literally save democracy again,” Biden told an above-capacity crowd of several thousand at a Democratic National Committee event at Richard Montgomery High School.
“You have to choose,” Biden added. “Will we be a country that moves forward or a country that moves backward?”
Casting the Republicans under ex-president Trump’s sway as a party of “anger, violence, hate and division,” Biden said, “We’ve chosen a different path forward: the future of unity, hope and optimism.
“This fall, there will be a choice between these two visions. We must take our case to the American people and be crystal clear about it,” he said.
Earlier, in remarks ahead of the speech, Biden likened Trump’s Make America Great Again or MAGA brand as “extreme”.
“It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the – I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism,” Biden said.
“You need to vote to literally save democracy again,” he then added.
The Republican National Committee called Biden’s comments “despicable.”
“Biden forced Americans out of their jobs, transferred money from working families to Harvard lawyers, and sent our country into a recession while families can’t afford gas and groceries,” said spokesperson Nathan Brand. “Democrats don’t care about suffering Americans – they never did.”
Democrats on a roll
Just weeks ago, Democrats were in the doldrums.
With Biden’s approval ratings below 40 percent and the party seemingly unable to close the deal on a series of election promises, there were widespread expectations that the Republicans would easily take control of at least one chamber of Congress.
A dramatic August, however, has sown the seeds of what some Democrats hope will be a political miracle, with their party holding the Senate and at minimum mitigating the size of the Republican win in the House of Representatives.
The Maryland rally came on the heels of a spate of legislative wins in Congress, coupled with fury among many Americans over the conservative-dominated Supreme Court’s ruling to end automatic nationwide abortion access rights.
Biden warned that Republicans would seek to outlaw abortion completely if they control Congress but said the issue was galvanising “the powerful force” of women voters.
Just on Wednesday, he made his latest move, announcing that millions of voters will be eligible to have between $10,000 and $20,000 cancelled from their often crippling student debt – a longtime demand from Democratic supporters.
By contrast, Republicans have become distracted by drama over Trump’s dispute with the Justice Department and the FBI over his allegedly illegal removal of top secret documents from the White House to his Florida golf club residence.
One reason the Republicans were expecting heavy wins in the midterms is that opposition parties nearly always punish the president’s party in midterms.
Another is that Biden, after a tough year marred by repeated new COVID variants and the highest inflation in 40 years, is so unpopular. His average approval rating has been stuck below 40 percent since late June, making him as unpopular as Trump before him.
Add in redistricting of House seats that was widely believed to favour the Republicans – effectively almost guaranteeing them several extra seats – and Republican party leaders were predicting a “red wave” to sweep “blue” Democrats away.
Now there is giddy talk on the left of a blue riptide washing back in the other direction.
The average of baseline polls asking which party should control Congress has shifted from months where Republicans led to a narrow 44-43.6 percent advantage for Democrats.
The Senate, which Democrats currently only control with one vote, was also thought to be trending Republican, but even Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell says that is now a 50-50 proposition.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” McConnell said.
Meanwhile, Biden’s own polling, while still terrible, is also creeping up.
A Gallup poll on Thursday showed 44 percent approval, his best result in a year. By comparison, this is actually better polling for an August before midterm elections than Trump in 2018 or Barack Obama in 2014, Gallup said.