WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden issued a stark warning Wednesday about threats to American democracy, using a prime-time speech to highlight the stakes in next week’s midterm election.
“As I stand here today, there are candidates running for every level of office in America ... who won’t commit to accepting the results of the election they’re in,” he said.
“That is the path to chaos in America. It’s unprecedented. It’s unlawful,” he added.
In the speech, which was hosted by the Democratic National Committee, Biden repeated warnings he has issued in recent months. The president has sought to paint Republicans as an extremist party loyal to former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again,” or “MAGA” movement, and has argued that a GOP victory on Nov. 8 would endanger American democracy.
At least 199 GOP candidates for statewide or federal office in next week’s elections have explicitly embraced the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen or have worked to overturn its results, according to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight. Biden and his party have spent much of the last year sounding the alarm about the threat those candidates pose to democracy. But even as Democrats railed against those candidates, some liberal groups helped to elevate them in Republican primaries, hoping they would be easier to beat in the general election.
Despite those efforts, Republicans are favored to win control of the House on Tuesday, snarling Democratic plans for the next two years.
Biden delivered Wednesday’s remarks at the Columbus Club at Union Station in Washington, near the site of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. His choice of venue was intended to remind viewers of the threat of political violence, White House official Anita Dunn told a panel hosted by Axios earlier Wednesday.
“I wish I could say the assault on our democracy ended that day,” Biden said of the Jan. 6 attacks. “But I cannot.”
Biden’s warnings about further political violence came just days after Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, suffered a skull fracture and other serious injuries during a home invasion at the couple’s San Francisco home. Federal officials said the alleged attacker, David DePape, had plotted to take Speaker Pelosi hostage and break her kneecaps.
During a campaign fundraiser for Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist on Tuesday, Biden blasted some Republicans for not condemning the assault on Pelosi and spreading conspiracy theories about it online.
“Look at the response of Republicans, making jokes about it,” Biden told the crowd. “These guys are extremely extreme.”
During a campaign event Monday, Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake joked about the attack. Donald Trump Jr. posted several social media comments mocking the episode. Former President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are among GOP leaders who have condemned the attack.
A majority of voters agree democracy is in danger, but they are largely divided on how to address the threat and whether it remains a priority in this election cycle, according to a New York Times-Siena College poll released last month.
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About 71% of registered voters in the survey said that democracy was under threat, but only 7% said that was the most important issue facing the country. Inflation and the economy ranked as more pressing issues for voters.
Courtney Subramanian Los Angeles Times (TNS)