Updated Aug 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden slams MAGA Republicans for "semi-fascism"

President Joe Biden speaks during a rally hosted by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on August 25, 2022 in Rockville, Maryland.
President Biden speaks during a rally hosted by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland, on Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden railed against Trump-allied Republicans Rockville, Maryland, on Thursday night in his first political rally speech in the leadup to November's midterm elections.

Why it matters: Biden's comments that "MAGA Republicans" are a "threat" to democracy and other criticisms of former President Trump and his "Make America Great Again" movement are some of his most pointed yet.

Of note: Biden's comments at a donor event for Democrats earlier in the evening that "it's not just Trump, it's the entire philosophy that underpins the — I'm going to say something — it's like semi-fascism" raised the ire of some Republicans.

  • Republican National Committee spokesperson Nathan Brand in a statement to news outlets called Biden's comments "despicable."

What he's saying: "The MAGA Republicans don't just threaten our personal rights and economic security," Biden said. "They're a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace ... political violence. They don't believe in democracy.

  • "This is why in this moment, those of you who love this country — Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans — we must be stronger," he added.
  • Biden also told the cheering crowd that in 2020, "you and 81 million Americans voted to save our democracy" — and "that's why Donald Trump isn't just a former president, he is a defeated former president."

The big picture: During his speech, Biden seized on key differences between Republicans and Democrats ahead of the midterms.

  • "I want to be crystal-clear about what's on the ballot this year," Biden said.
  • "Your right to choose is on the ballot this year. The Social Security you paid for from the time you had a job is on the ballot. The safety of our kids from gun violence is on the ballot."
  • Addressing a push by some conservatives for a national abortion ban, Biden said: "MAGA Republicans don't have a clue about the power of women. Let me tell you something: They are about to find out."

Meanwhile, Biden made the case for Democrats' policies to tackle climate change, saying: "It's not hyperbole — the very survival of our planet is on the ballot."

Between the lines: Biden's comments come as a Fox News poll out this week shows Democrats are equally as motivated about the midterms as Republicans, in a shift from previous polling.

  • Democratic strategists credit the decision by the Supreme Court's conservative majority to overturn Roe v Wade as a motivating force for otherwise-disillusioned Democrats to show up for the midterms — though the overall picture looks bleak, Axios' Josh Kraushaar writes.

The other side: "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," Brand said in his statement.

  • "Democrats don't care about suffering Americans — they never did."
  • Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper: Rise of ultra-MAGA right could play into Dems' hands

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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