Thursday, May 30, 2024

Biden says “democracy is on the ballot” in midterms speech

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Washington — With less than one week to go before the midterm elections, President Biden began a Wednesday night speech on democracy by recounting the last week’s assault on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband at their San Francisco home. 

Detailing the assault as described by police and alleged in court documents, Mr. Biden noted how the suspect allegedly entered the Pelosi home and asked, “Where is Nancy?” before attacking Paul Pelosi with a hammer.

“It’s hard to even say,” the president said during his speech at Union Station. “… Those are the very same words used by the mob when they stormed the United States Capitol on January the 6th.” 

In the Democratic National Committee speech announced just Wednesday morning, the president made the case that “American democracy is under attack,” and voters need to counteract that at the ballot box. The future of American democracy and threats to it have been a theme in several of Mr. Biden’s speeches, and he has grown more vocal in naming what he believes are the partisan forces that threaten the nation’s democratic values.

“American democracy is under attack because the defeated former president of the United States refuses to accept the results of the 2020 election,” Mr. Biden said. “He refuses to accept the will of the people.”

He framed the upcoming elections as one in which voters must ask themselves whether the vote they cast will preserve democracy or put it at risk.

“Make no mistake,” he said. “Democracy is on the ballot for all of us.” 

The president urged Americans to not only discourage and denounce political violence, but to reject voter intimidation at the ballot box

“Democracy’s imperfect. It always has been,” he said. “But we are all called to defend it, now. Now.” 

The president also encouraged voters to be “patient” as they await results on election night, and warned against conspiracy theories. Twenty-seven million Americans have already voted, he said, and many states don’t start counting ballots until after the polls close, meaning some elections might not have results for days, he said. 

Mr. Biden also noted this is the “first national election since the events of Jan. 6, when the armed, angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol.”

“I wish I could say the assault on our democracy ended that day. But I cannot,” the president said. “As I stand here today, there are candidates running for every level of office in America: for governor, Congress, for attorney general, Secretary of State who won’t commit, they will not commit to accepting the results of the elections they’re running in. This is a path to chaos in America. It’s unprecedented. It’s unlawful. And, It is un-American. As I’ve said before, you can’t love your country only when you win.”

As Americans head to the polls and send in their ballots, the president urged voters to consider whether a candidate will accept the results of the election, even if they lose.

“My fellow Americans, we’ll meet this moment,” Mr. Biden said. “We just need to remember who we are. We are the United States of America. There’s nothing, nothing beyond our capacity if we do it together.” 

Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to Mr. Biden, said Wednesday morning at an event hosted by Axios that the Capitol Hill area was chosen as the setting for the speech because of the violent attack on the nearby Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, during which a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters attempted to “subvert our democracy.”

“On Jan. 6 we saw violence geared towards subverting democratic processes there, so it is an appropriate place to make these remarks tonight,” she said. “And political violence, the threat of political violence, which most Americans find abhorrent, the idea that you would use violence to further your political means, you know, it’s something that unites almost all Americans, and that we can all be united against.”

The president in September delivered a primetime address from Independence Hall in Philadelphia criticizing the so-called “MAGA Republicans” who hold beliefs that run counter to democratic values.

Mr. Biden’s speech comes as the midterm elections enter the final stretch, with Democrats hoping to maintain their control of the House and Senate. But recent CBS News polls show Republicans in a good position to win a majority of seats in the House, as voters worry about the economy and continuing inflation, as well as a volatile stock market.

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