Biden Likens Republican Ideology to ‘Semi-Fascism’
ROCKVILLE, Md.—Aiming to turn months of legislative accomplishments into political energy, President Joe Biden sought Thursday to underscore the choice facing voters in the midterm elections, comparing Republican ideology to “semi-fascism,” as he led a kickoff rally and a fundraiser in Maryland.
The events, in the safely Democratic Washington suburbs, are meant to ease Biden into what White House aides say will be an aggressive season of championing his policy victories and aiding his party’s candidates. The move comes just as Democrats have experienced a rebound in their political prospects, thanks to the legacy-defining action of Congressman Biden.
From bipartisan action on gun control, infrastructure and domestic technology manufacturing to Democrats-only efforts to tackle climate change and health care costs, Biden is expected to highlight the achievements of the party’s unified but razor-thin control of Washington. He will seek to highlight the differences with Republicans who seemed poised for major victories in November.
Just months ago, as inflation soared, Biden’s poll numbers soured and his agenda stalled, Democrats braced for significant losses. But the intense voter reaction to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and a productive summer on issues of core concern to Democrats have the party feeling like it is finally on the offensive heading into the Nov. 8 vote, even as the president remains unpopular.
Democrats, said Biden pollster John Anzalone, are “in a better position to compete because Joe Biden put us there.”
“It doesn’t mean that the wind’s at our back,” he added. “But we have more of a breeze than what felt like a gale hurricane in our face.”
Biden, ahead of the Montgomery High School rally in Rockville with overflow crowds, was fundraising for $1 million with around 100 donors to the Democratic National Committee. The event took place in Bethesda’s backyard.
“I think the American people are waking up to reality that things have changed so drastically” with Republicans, he told donors, adding, “Mark my words” that if Democrats lose the midterms, Republicans would move to “wiping out choice, across the board.”
Biden’s Thursday event comes a day after the president moved to fulfill a long-delayed campaign pledge to forgive federal student loans for lower- and middle-income borrowers — a move that Democrats believe will animate younger and Black and Latino voters.
Republicans saw political advantages in this move and viewed it as a unfair advantage to Democratic voters.
“President Biden’s inflation is crushing working families, and his answer is to give away even more government money to elites with higher salaries,” said Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. “Democrats are literally using working Americans’ money to try to buy themselves some enthusiasm from their political base.”
Biden aides said he would continue to paint Republicans as the “ultra-MAGA” party — a reference to former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan — opposing his agenda and embracing conservative ideological proposals, and Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election.
“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden said. “It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism.”
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 have experienced a rise in contributions, polling, and participation in special elections to fill open seats in Congress since June’s Supreme Court ruling. In a swing Hudson Valley district where Republicans were on the rise, Tuesday’s result was a surprise. Pat Ryan, a Democratic Ulster County executive, won against Marc Molinaro, his Republican opponent from Duchess County. Ryan ran on the platform of supporting abortion rights.
This shift gives Democrats the feeling that a Republican sweep in the House may not be so certain, especially since polling is better than Biden’s and incumbents who have been tested work their districts.
While Democrats are still struggling, they have been able to benefit from Republican primaries won by candidates that were not in the general election. Trump-backed Senate candidates have complicated the GOP’s chances in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, while several Trump-aligned candidates in House races were not always the party’s first choice.
Trump’s grip on the GOP remains strong and has perhaps even become tighter in the aftermath of the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home.
JB Poersch, the president of Senate Majority Project, an outside group that is working to elect Democrats to the Senate, said the Republican candidates are “getting caught up in the Trump tornado once again — that is exactly what voters of both parties don’t want.”
Biden’s political event, sponsored by the Democratic National Committee, comes as the president and members of his Cabinet are set to embark on what the White House has billed as the “Building a Better America Tour” to promote “the benefits of the President’s accomplishments and the Inflation Reduction Act to the American people and highlight the contrast with Congressional Republicans’ vision.”
This comes at a time when the White House is enjoying a steady fall in gasoline prices. They have been dropping daily since June, although still high.
Months before, Democratic legislators faced tough reelection battles and sought to be scarce. But, White House aides stated that Biden still was an asset for them, elevating issues that resonated with voters, and sharpening distinction with Republicans.
Allies are beginning to see the fortunes of the country changing, and they regard the president more as a benefit to their campaigns.
Biden, Wes Moore (gubernatorial candidate) and other elected officials were expected to attend the Maryland election. According to a spokesperson for Sen. Chris Van Hollen who was up for reelection due to a long-planned trip to celebrate his marriage anniversary with his wife. However, he did record a welcome video to Biden that would be played at the rally.
“Joe Biden is not the ballot technically, but Joe Biden is on the ballot,” House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer said at the rally. “And Joe Biden needs your support “
Cedric Richmond, the former Louisiana congressman and Biden senior adviser who now advises the Democratic National Committee, said if he were a candidate, he’d rush to have Biden at his side.
“I’d get in front of the van and become the drum major and talk about all the accomplishments that have happened under the leadership of Biden,” Richmond said Wednesday. “You have a president who just keeps his head down and gets the work done and I think voters, as we kick off this campaign season, will see and appreciate that.”
He acknowledged some Democrats might opt against “bringing Washington to their district.”
“There are probably a few cases where that may make sense when you don’t even want to be associated with Washington,” Richmond said. “That has nothing to do with the president. That has everything to do with the typical dysfunction of Washington.”
He added, “The important point to stress is you don’t have that dysfunction right now because of President Biden.”
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