US President Joe Biden has warned voters against re-electing Donald Trump in this year’s election, saying the likely Republican presidential nominee presents a serious risk to the country and described him as a threat to democracy.
The speech on Friday came one day before the third anniversary of the January 6 attack when a violent group of Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol in a desperate bid to keep him in power after his 2020 election loss.
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“He told the crowd to fight like hell. And all hell was unleashed,” Biden said at a community college in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. “Then as usual he left the dirty work to others. He retreated to the White House.”
Biden characterised Trump and his followers as dangerous outliers and asked Democrats, independents and “mainstream Republicans” who cherish US democracy to back him.
“Democracy is on the ballot. Your freedom is on the ballot,” he said.
“Donald Trump’s campaign is obsessed with the past, not the future,” Biden said. “Trump’s assault on democracy isn’t just part of his past. It’s what he’s promising for the future.”
Before his speech, Biden toured the Valley Forge site of George Washington’s Revolutionary War-era winter headquarters in late 1777 and early 1778.
He contrasted Trump’s bid to hang on to power to the example set by Washington, who stepped down willingly after two terms as the first US president.
Trump seeking ‘revenge’
Biden said Trump’s re-election bid was based on trying to seek “revenge and retribution” against his political enemies. He reminded Americans that Trump has called his opponents “vermin,” the “same exact language used in Nazi Germany”.
“How dare he? Who in God’s name does he think he is?” said Biden.
Trump, president from 2017 to 2021, is leading the field for the Republican nomination for president. He contested his defeat in the 2020 election, prompting thousands of his supporters to attack the US Capitol.
The failed bid to stop formal certification of the result caused the deaths of five people and injured dozens of police officers.
Biden also criticised Republicans for changing their tone on Trump, saying that when the attacks of January 6 took place, “there was no doubt about the truth” and that some Republican members of Congress and Fox News commentators had publicly and privately condemned the uprising.
“But now as time has gone on – politics, fear, money – have all intervened. And those MAGA voices who know the truth about Trump and January 6th have abandoned the truth and abandoned our democracy,” Biden said, referring to Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) campaign.
More than 1,230 people have been charged with federal crimes for their participation, including felonies such as assaulting police officers and seditious conspiracy.
Biden ‘destroyer of democracy’
Trump hit back during a speech on Friday in Sioux Center, Iowa, and called Biden’s record “an unbroken streak of weakness, incompetence, corruption and failure”.
Ahead of Biden’s speech, the Trump campaign released an advertisement accusing him of being “the true destroyer of democracy” citing special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s actions on January 6.
Smith, a veteran prosecutor known for pursuing mob bosses, has charged Trump with conspiring to illegally subvert the results of the 2020 election. The former president faces four criminal counts as part of the indictment.
Trump, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied any wrongdoing, has accused prosecutors of conducting a politically motivated “witch hunt” to derail his 2024 re-election bid.