Nov 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden links Paul Pelosi attack to Trump rhetoric

Photo: Kent Nishimura /Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

President Biden used his closing address ahead of next Tuesday's midterms to warn of what he sees as a straight line from former President Trump's election denial to last week's attack on Paul Pelosi.

Why it matters: Speaking at Union Station, blocks from the Capitol Dome, Biden argued that Trump's "big lie that the election of 2020 had been stolen" was the driving force behind both the attack on Pelosi and the Capitol. "It's a lie that fueled the dangerous rise in political violence and voter intimidation over the past two years."

Details: Biden preemptively denounced any Republicans who won't accept next Tuesday's election's results, arguing that the looming contest is about a much bigger issue than any of his specific policies.

  • “We’ll have our differences,” he said. “But there’s something else at stake, democracy itself.”
  • Cutting straight to an issue that has terrified senior White House officials and Democratic candidates, the president repeated the alleged words of Pelosi’s assailant — “Where's Nancy? Where's Nancy?" — before reminding Americans that “those are the very same words used by the mob when they stormed the United States Capitol."

Driving the news: The midterm elections are six days away, and Democrats are increasingly concerned that voter anger over high inflation, crime and immigration will lead to a red wave that will usher in Republican control of the House — and potentially the Senate.

  • Biden is trying to energize his base while also appealing to the independent voters who rejected Trump in 2020 and helped install him in the White House.
  • While Biden has eschewed the kind of massive midterm rallies, which were the hallmarks of two previous predecessors, he is still trying to talk directly to potential voters.
  • But House and Senate candidates in difficult races have been reluctant to campaign with Biden, constricting the president’s ability to hit the road and make his case.

Between the lines: While wrapping his speech in the language of Abraham Lincoln, Biden is also making what is essentially a political argument.

  • He is also trying, yet again, to turn the election into a choice between him and Trumpism, instead of a referendum on his first two years in office.
  • “What we are doing now will determine if democracy will long endure,” Biden intoned.

The big picture: In increasingly stark language, Biden has been ratcheting up his warnings about the threat of political extremism. Wednesday’s speech was an updated version of his early September address when he cast the election as a “battle for the soul of this nation.”

  • At a Democratic fundraiser in August, Biden suggested that Trump-aligned Republicans were motivated by “semi-fascism."
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