President Biden on Wednesday went after former President Trump and other Republicans who continue to tout 2020 election lies, warning democracy is on the ballot just six days before the midterms and following the violent attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) husband.
“American democracy is under attack because the defeated former president of the United States refused to accept the results of the 2020 election,” Biden said. “He refuses to accept the will of the people, he refuses to accept the fact that he lost. He has abused his power and put the loyalty to himself before loyalty to the Constitution. And he’s made a big lie an article of faith of the mega Republican Party, the minority of that party.”
The president, speaking at a Democratic National Committee event at Union Station near the Capitol, warned the public that the country faced a crossroads in next week’s election that could upend democracy.
The speech came less than a week after an alleged assailant broke into the speaker’s home and attacked her husband, Paul Pelosi, with a hammer. Biden focused briefly on the attack at the start of the speech, but his broader message was for Americans to reject political violence, voter intimidation and election denialism as hundreds of GOP candidates are on the ballot next week for various offices who have refused to say if they will accept the results should they lose.
“There’s a lot at stake in these midterm elections … but there’s something else at stake: democracy itself,” Biden said.
The speech carried echoes of Biden’s address in early September in Philadelphia, when he said Trump and his allies, so-called “MAGA Republicans,” posed a threat to American democracy.
The president on Wednesday argued Americans should be able to agree on three things: That the right to vote is sacred, that political violence should be condemned, and that they believe in democracy.
“We don’t settle our differences in America with a riot, a mob, or a bullet or a hammer. We settle them peacefully at the ballot box,” Biden said, alluding to the Pelosi attack.
The speech comes six days before an election that will determine who controls Congress and after millions of Americans have already cast their ballots. Biden has repeatedly stressed that the midterms should not be viewed as a referendum on his job performance, but as a choice between two distinctly different visions for the country.
While some in the Democratic Party believe the focus should be on kitchen table issues like bringing down the cost of gas, groceries and energy, Biden has been clear that the differences between the two parties extend to the fate of democracy itself.
Biden argued “MAGA Republicans” aligned with Trump would look to “succeed where they failed in 2020” by trying to “suppress the right of voters and subvert the electoral system itself.”
Biden acknowledged that the outcome of the midterm elections might not be decided for a few days after Election Day, calling on Americans to be patient.
“It’s always been important for citizens in a democracy to be informed and engaged. Now it’s important for citizens to be patient as well. That’s how it’s supposed to work,” he said.
He said that there’s been no election in U.S. history other than the 2020 election that Americans can be more certain of the results because legal challenges and recounts were brought up, which all proved the results were accurate.
“It was an enraged mob that had been whipped up into a frenzy by a president repeating over and over again the big lie that the election of 2020 had been stolen. It’s a lie that fueled the dangerous rise in political violence and voter intimidation over the past two years,” he said.
“Silence is complicity,” he said, saying there is an “alarming rise” of people in the U.S. who condone political violence.
When he opened his remarks detailing the attack on Paul Pelosi, he noted that the attacker said “where’s Nancy,” which echoes words shouted by the mob on Jan. 6, some of whom stormed and ransacked the Speaker’s office.
Paul Pelosi was attacked early Friday morning in the couple’s San Francisco home and underwent surgery for a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands.
Biden decided to deliver Wednesday’s remarks because of the “alarming number” of Republican officials who have said they won’t accept the results of the midterm elections, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said earlier on Wednesday. The attack on Paul Pelosi, also factored into the president’s decision to make the speech, according to Jean-Pierre.