Lawmakers are responding to an unprecedented attack by President Joe Biden on his opponents. Biden, who still has some of the lowest poll numbers of any president in history, gave an ultra-politicized prime-time speech Thursday night warning that Republicans are a threat to Democracy.
But his harshest attacks were reserved for what he has labeled “MAGA Republicans,” or those who voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” Biden said at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Sept. 1.
“MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards,” Biden claiimed, before slamming “MAGA Republicans” as those who “embrace anger,” “thrive on chaos,” and “live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.”
Biden’s attack, not as part of an official political campaign stop but in his official capacity as president, was done against a backdrop of U.S. Marines. That broke 200 years of presidential decorum in which presidents have chosen not to politicize the military.
The angry speech comes just two months ahead of the mid-term elections in which Republicans are still expected to take back control of the House, and possibly, the Senate. If that happens, the Biden agenda will come to a screeching halt as Republicans vote against many of the policies that polling shows Americans are against.
Biden’s words drew a barrage of criticism on Twitter from GOP lawmakers.
“Tonight, Joe Biden vilified millions of Americans in a divisive & angry speech that was detached from the reality of his political failures,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wrote. “He isn’t actually interested in restoring the soul of the nation, he’s only interested [in] pitting his fellow Americans against one another.”
“Joe Biden gave a speech attacking Republicans to distract from the fact his economic agenda caused inflation to reach a historic 40-year high and sent our economy into a recession,” Blackburn continued. “The extreme MAGA agenda is securing the border, reducing inflation, lowering taxes, and upholding the Constitution.”
In a follow-up tweet, Blackburn pointed out how Biden has failed to address the threat posed by the Chinese regime.
“The Chinese Communist Party presents one of the greatest threats in modern day history,” Blackburn wrote. “Biden has failed to strengthen America and stand up to [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping.”
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) wrote that more than 61 percent of his constituents are MAGA Republicans.
“I can assure you they’re some of the most hardworking, freedom-loving, proud Americans I’ve ever met,” Donalds wrote. “The president might hate you, but I love you, & I’ll always fight for our Republic.”
Former President Donald Trump also responded to the speech asking on the Truth Social platform Biden could really represent America after attacking half of all voters.
“Someone should explain to Joe Biden, slowly but passionately, that MAGA means, as powerfully as mere words can get, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump wrote.
“If he doesn’t want to Make America Great Again, which through words, action, and thought, he doesn’t, then he certainly should not be representing the United States of America!”
But it wasn’t just Republicans responding negatively. The White Hous on Friday attacked news networks for their description of it as hyper political.
Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason began his tweet by quoting the president’s response to hecklers at his speech, writing, “‘…he accused former President Trump and ‘MAGA Republicans’ of threatening the foundation of U.S. democracy. The White House said earlier today the speech was not political.”
Like or loathe what he said tonight, it should be noted: The president spoke tonight on the grounds of a national park, flanked by US Marines, and took direct, specific aim at his predecessor and members of the Republican Party.
Another thing we don’t see everyday.
— Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) September 2, 2022
CBS News correspondent Ed O’Keefe similarly wrote, “Like or loathe what he said tonight, it should be noted: The president spoke tonight on the grounds of a national park, flanked by US Marines, and took direct, specific aim at his predecessor and members of the Republican Party. Another thing we don’t see everyday.”
CNN correspondent Jeff Zeleny added, “There’s nothing unusual or wrong with a President delivering a political speech — it’s inherent in the job description — but doing it against a backdrop of two Marines standing at attention and the Marine Band is a break with White House traditions.”
CNN anchor Brianna Keilar similarly knocked Biden’s “political” speech, specifically how flanking two Marines “flies in the face” of having an apolitical military.
Bates’ colleague, White House deputy press secretary Chris Meagher, replied to Keilar, “Democracy is not a partisan or political issue.”
While some even what some would describe as the liberal media were also uncomfortable with the political nature of the speech, Democrats welcomed it among polling showing Congress is the least popular political institution in the country.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) released a statement calling Biden’s address “inspiring and optimistic.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, took to Twitter to say, “I agree with President Biden that Trump and the MAGA forces represent extremism.”
Biden’s speech has since become a rallying call in one of the November races—a House seat from Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, where incumbent Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.) is facing Democrat nominee Shuwaski Young.
“Tonight, instead of addressing his party’s failures on the border, economy, and crime, Biden attacked hard-working Americans who believe in conservative values,” Guest wrote on Twitter.
“You have a clear choice on Nov 8th:” Guest continued, “conservative action” or “more liberal failures, excuses, & finger pointing.”