Biden’s Maryland speech criticizes ‘semi-fascism’ underpinning ‘extreme MAGA philosophy’

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It was a forceful start to midterm politicking for the president, who later addressed a crowd of supporters in a Maryland high school gym to test the message he is expected to push aggressively for Democrats this fall.

“In 2020, you and 81 million Americans voted to save our democracy,” Biden told a roaring crowd. “This is why Donald Trump is not just a former president. He is a defeated former president.”

The victories had clearly injected a fighting spirit into Biden, who adopted the ferocious campaign cadence that has been largely absent from his White House appearances. He immediately took off his suit jacket before beginning his speech.

“We never gave up and now we are delivering for the American people,” he said. “Even our critics have been forced to acknowledge real progress.”

He said Trump and his fellow Republicans “have made a decision to back down, full of anger, violence, hate and division.”

“We have chosen a different path: Forward, the future, unity, hope and optimism,” Biden proclaimed.

Biden hopes the recent string of accomplishments can propel Democrats into office. But his attacks on Trump and Republicans who have remained loyal to him have also grown distinctly sharper as the November congressional races approach.

“What we are seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden told a group of Democratic donors at a private home in Maryland before the rally.

“It’s not just Trump,” he continued, “it’s the whole philosophy behind the… I’ll say something: It’s like semi-fascism.”

Labeling Trump’s views as a kind of proto-fascism marked an escalation in Biden’s rebukes of his predecessor and set the stage for a midterm political message designed to paint his opponents as too extreme for most voters.

“The whole notion of burn it all politics and MAGA Republicans is still a drumbeat,” he said during the rally.

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee responded to Biden’s labeling of some Trump-supporting Republicans as “semi-fascists.”

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“Despicable,” said Nathan Brand, an RNC spokesman. “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 food. Democrats don’t care about suffering.” of the Americans, they never did.

He used the pulpit of presidential thugs to denounce the GOP’s efforts to restrict women’s reproductive rights, as well as draw contrasts on other key issues, while making a sweeping midterm argument for Democrats.

“MAGA Republicans have no idea about the power of women,” Biden said when speaking about abortion rights.

Touting new gun laws, he said children should “learn to read and write in school instead of learning to drop and cover.”

And with the recent spending of hundreds of billions of dollars to combat climate change, Biden said, “This year, the American people won and the climate change deniers lost.”

Abortion rights play a big role in motivating Democrats

His comments come as Democrats appear to be closing an enthusiasm gap with voters, gaining some momentum in a series of recent contests. Democrats argue that victories in some key races reflect how the Supreme Court ruling ending federal abortion rights earlier this summer has rocked the November race.

Earlier this week in upstate New York, Democrat Pat Ryan’s victory in a special election provided a clear signal that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has encouraged the Democratic base. And earlier this month, Kansas voters turned out in droves to oppose a ballot measure that would have allowed lawmakers to ban abortion in the state, indicating the stimulative effect of the issue.

Before the rally, at a private fundraiser in Bethesda, Maryland, Biden told about 100 attendees that he feels Democrats are going “in the right direction.” The fundraiser raised about $1 million for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund, a DNC official told the news group.

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“What we have shown is that we can take on the gun lobby, we can take on these other organizations and educate the American people about what is at stake. And I think we can win,” Biden said.

Thursday’s speech offered a preview of how the president will personally continue to stress the importance of fighting for reproductive rights with voters as his administration has moved to strengthen protections for women following the June ruling. It comes as a list of restrictive state abortion laws goes into effect this week.

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told a news conference Wednesday that the White House remains “committed to restoring Roe’s protections.” But the executive branch has limited ability to respond to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The president and top administration officials have repeatedly called on Congress to restore the nation’s right to abortion, but any such legislation to codify the protections in Roe v. Wade currently does not have the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. Biden and other top Democrats will need to make their case clear to voters for electing pro-choice officials at the state level, as Republican-led legislatures race to limit the procedure.

Trigger laws in three states — Idaho, Tennessee and Texas — take effect Thursday and ban abortions in their respective states with few exceptions, though litigation continues around certain aspects of some of those states’ bans. These laws were designed to take effect 30 days after the broadcast of the US Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, a court procedural step that occurred on July 26.

The White House has called those laws, as well as abortion laws in South Carolina, Alabama, Indiana, Arizona and Georgia and proposed laws in South Carolina, Texas and Missouri, “extreme.”

Those state laws, Jen Klein, director of the White House Gender Policy Council, said in an interview with CNN, “not only threaten abortion rights, they also put women’s lives and health at risk.” .

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The president and White House officials have said the Supreme Court’s decision was “out of step” with the opinion of most Americans on the issue.

“Women in particular, but people in general across the political spectrum are angry, scared and motivated by this poorly decided case,” Klein said.

He added: “What we’re seeing right now across the country is that Americans need to make their voices heard to make sure their elected officials represent their views. In the meantime, we’ll do everything we can.”

Earlier this month, Biden signed an executive order that will help women travel out of state for abortions, ensure health care providers comply with federal law so women don’t delay getting care, and move forward. in research and data collection on the subject. And in July, he signed an executive order that he said would safeguard access to abortion care and contraceptives, protect patient privacy and establish a task force on access to reproductive health care with members of various government departments.

The White House has also maintained a public pressure campaign. On Wednesday, Jean-Pierre criticized a federal judge’s decision in Texas that blocked guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services that emergency medical care must include abortion services. He called the ruling “devastating” in a statement and warned that women “may die as a result.”

And in a statement Thursday, Jean-Pierre offered his support for a ruling in a federal district court in Idaho that will allow women to continue seeking abortion services, saying it “will prevent serious harm to women in Idaho.”

The NCD is also boosting messaging efforts on the issue, with a six-figure TV ad buy across the country in July highlighting the “fight to protect access to abortion.” A seven-figure television and other media ad buy launched last week also mentions the issue, an effort to keep it top of mind with voters.

CNN’s Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.