Aug 31, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden ramps up anti-Republican rhetoric ahead of midterms

President Joe Biden speaks on his Safer America Plan at the Marts Center on August 30, 2022 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

President Biden speaking at an event in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

President Biden appeared to take a swipe at Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and other Republicans during a speech in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, days after likening the Trump MAGA movement to "semi-fascism."

The big picture: Biden has ramped up his rhetoric ahead of November's crucial midterm elections and he's due to attend another two events over the next week in Pennsylvania, a key congressional battleground state.

What he's saying: In his his speech Tuesday, Biden took aim at Trump-aligned Republicans who haven't criticized U.S. Capitol rioters, saying "let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress: Don't tell me you support the law enforcement if you won't condemn what happened" on Jan. 6, 2021.

  • He also said it's "sickening to see the new attacks on the FBI, threatening the lives of law enforcement agents and their families for simply carrying out the law and doing their job."
  • And Biden addressed Republicans who've made calls to "defund the FBI" following the search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Largo home. "I'm opposed to defunding the police. I'm also opposed to defunding the FBI," he said.

Worth noting: Though Biden didn't name Graham in his speech, he referred to remarks the South Carolina senator made earlier this week.

  • "No one expects politics to be patty cake," he said. "Sometimes it gets mean as hell. But the idea you turn on a television and see senior senators and congressmen saying, 'If such and such happens, there'll be blood in the street.' Where the hell are we?"

Context: Graham said in a Fox News interview Sunday that if Trump is prosecuted in connection with the FBI search for allegedly "mishandling classified information ... there literally will be riots in the street."

  • Graham told Fox News' "Jesse Watters Primetime" in response to Biden's comments on Tuesday night that he rejects violence. "I'm not calling for violence. Violence is not the answer," he said.
  • "But I'm just telling you" that it'd "upset people" if Trump were prosecuted, added Graham — who told Politico in February he regards Biden as his friend despite his unwavering support of Trump and comments about Hunter Biden.

Go deeper: Pennsylvania split screen: Biden v. Trump

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