President Biden is expected to deliver a blistering attack on Republicans just blocks from the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday – less than a week before voters head to the polls and decide whether to keep Democrats in control of Congress.
Biden will speak at a Democratic National Committee event inside Union Station in Washington, D.C. Before an audience largely made up of Democratic Party chieftains and reporters, Biden is expected to lay out an indictment of Republicans and “election deniers.”
The president offered a preview of the remarks Tuesday during an election rally in Florida with his party’s Senate and gubernatorial candidates.
“There are 350 [election] deniers… on the Republican ballot, everything from state house races to secretaries of state, to governors, [and] to senators,” said Biden. “Folks, there’s a lot at stake – a whole lot at stake.”
Biden’s DNC speech is expected to expand on those attacks and frame the upcoming midterms, where Democrats are defending narrow majorities in Congress, as a critical moment for American democracy. In making the argument, the president is likely to lean heavily on previous rhetoric warning that a vote for Democrats this cycle is an opportunity to rebuff political extremism.
“MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution,” Biden said during a prime-time address from Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in September. “MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.”
Recent polls show voters are not buying the rhetoric amid 40-year high inflation. While Biden’s approval rating has rebounded in recent weeks, a Fox News poll this month found that Republicans lead Democrats among likely voters on the congressional preference ballot.
The same poll found that 89% of voters said they were extremely concerned about inflation and higher prices, while only 74% said the same about the nation’s lingering political divisions.
“We’re six days out and what does Biden think the closing argument should be for Democrats,” said Emma Vaughn, the national press secretary for the Republican National Committee. “Attacking ‘extremist’ Republicans at Union Station.”
Biden’s remarks also come less than a week after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was violently attacked in San Francisco, California. While the motive for the assault remains uncertain, Democrats have been quick to claim that years of GOP criticism made Pelosi and her family targets.
Biden argued in Florida on Tuesday the attack was the result of an inflamed political environment where Republican rhetoric and dangerous conspiracy theories were intersecting on the internet.
“The reason why people are doing what they’re doing,” said Biden. “When they hear every single day these outrageous lies… when they look at the internet and see what’s being said, you know, where we keep children in basements to molest them and all these kinds of things – look what’s happened.”
It remains to be seen whether Biden’s DNC message will lower political tensions or worsen divisions. Earlier this year, the president came under fire from both Democrats and Republicans for accusing the GOP of becoming the party of “semi-fascism.”
Centrist Republicans, in particular, say such rhetoric from the president is disappointing given Biden’s lip service to civility during the 2020 campaign.
“With the upcoming election likely to result in a divided government, the president should be carving a viable path forward to effectively work with Congress on behalf of all Americans, not attacking those who didn’t vote for him,” said GOP Rep. Dave Joyce of Ohio, who leads the moderate Republican Governance Group caucus.
The opinion is shared among large numbers of moderate GOP lawmakers, despite Biden’s attempts to clarify he does not see all Republicans as “MAGA extremists.”
“He’s become the divider-in-chief,” said Rep. Don Bacon, a centrist Nebraska Republican who backed Biden’s infrastructure package last year.