President Joe Biden has linked Wednesday’s attack on Paul Pelosi to former President Donald Trump and his refusal to accept defeat in the 2020 presidential election.
Biden did not name Trump, but it was clear who he meant and that he would make next week’s election a referendum on Trump’s “big lie” – his false claim that he won two years ago but was thwarted by voter fraud .
“American democracy is under attack because the defeated former President of the United States refused to accept the results of the 2020 election,” Biden said in a speech at Union Station in Washington DC.
“And he made the Big Lie, a MAGA Republican Party article of faith,” Biden said. “The great irony about the 2020 election is that it is the most attacked election in our history. And yet there is no election in our history where we can be more sure of its results. Any legal challenge that could be brought was brought. Every recount that could have been done was done. Every recount confirmed the results.”
Biden tried to steer the conversation back to protecting American democracy as voters said they were most concerned about the economy and the high cost of living due to inflation. Crime remains another major concern.
Wednesday’s speech, which was supposed to be a fast-paced rally for Democrats six days before Election Day, was delivered to a friendly crowd of about 150 young Democrats who queued two hours in advance to get in.
He set the stage for his remarks by recounting last week’s attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, linking it to the violence that ravaged the Capitol on Jan. 6 during the riot.
He has blasted the rising rate of violence in the country.
“This institution, this intimidation, this violence against Democrats, Republicans, and nonpartisan officials just doing their jobs, are the product of lies told for power and profit, lies of conspiracy and malice, lies repeated over and over again to create a cycle of anger, hate, poison and even violence,” he said.
He urged Americans of all political backgrounds to show their support for democracy in the Nov. 8 election, when Republicans are expected to take control of at least one chamber of Congress.
“We the people must decide if we have fair and free elections and every vote counts. We the people must decide whether to uphold a republic where reality is accepted, the law is obeyed and your voice is truly sacred,” he said.
Biden was speaking from the Columbus Club in Union Station, a few blocks from the Capitol — the site of the Jan. 6 riot where supporters of Donald Trump tried to stop certification of the 2020 election results.
His comments come as Democrats fear defeat at the ballot box in the Nov. 8 election. Republicans are preferred to win the House of Representatives. The Senate is more competitive.
Early voting has begun in many parts of the country.
And Biden pointed out that election intimidation has already begun.
“Instead of waiting until an election is over, they start well before it. You start now. They have encouraged violence and intimidation of voters and poll officials. It is estimated that more than 300 draft dodgers will be on the ballot papers across America this year. We cannot ignore the impact this is having on our country. It’s harmful, it’s corrosive and it’s destructive,” he said.
Biden’s speech will be handled by the party’s political arm, not the White House.
Several Republican candidates have declined to say whether they would accept the results of their contests.
And Donald Trump continues to spread the false claim that he won the 2020 election. Meanwhile, a majority of Republican candidates up for election this November for the House, Senate and key statewide offices — 291 in all — have denied or questioned the outcome of the last presidential election, according to a Washington Post analysis.
Union Station, the site of Biden’s remarks, has become a crime hotspot in the nation’s capital as a Starbucks closed in July over security concerns and homeless people pitched tents outside the entrance.
There was also a shooting outside the station’s Shake Shack in September.
The location of the speech was deliberately chosen to draw comparisons to the January 6 uprising.
“He’s going to deliver this speech from Capitol Hill … because on January 6 we saw violence aimed at undermining democratic processes. So it’s an appropriate place to make those comments tonight,” White House Counsel Anita Dunn told an Axios panel.
She said the President ‘is going to make it very clear tonight that he’s speaking to people who don’t agree with him on anything, who don’t agree with his agenda, but who can really unite behind this idea of this core value of democracy.’
He will also demand patience with the results. Several Republican candidates have not said whether they would accept the election result.
Biden will emphasize that it may take some time for the results to be tallied, but that this should not undermine confidence in the results, his deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon said.
The speech comes amid an aggravated political climate and as fears of violence mount after Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul was assaulted last week by a man who broke into their San Francisco home looking for the speaker. She was not at home at that time. Paul Pelosi was hit with a hammer and required skull surgery but is expected to recover.
Biden often speaks about fighting for the “soul of the nation” and has said that democracy is on the ballot.
But polls show the economy is the top concern of voters ahead of the Nov. 8 election, which will decide who will control Congress.
A Gallup poll conducted on Monday found that 49% of respondents said the economy was their top concern, followed by abortion and crime at 42% and 40% respectively.
Union Station, the site of Biden’s remarks, is their own crime hotbed.
The building, a hub of Amtrak and commuter trains, has become a site of safety concerns.
Starbucks closed its outpost there this summer over concerns about crime in the building, which also houses shops and restaurants. Once a popular dining spot, its reputation has gone downhill.
A large number of homeless people also use the station as a shelter.
Trump’s MAGA supporters in the Capitol on Jan. 6
However, Biden’s target audience for his comments could be his own Democrats.
An NPR/PBS/Marist poll found that enthusiasm has waned among Democratic voters compared to Republicans.
Black voters, Latinos and young voters – all major Democratic constituencies – are among the least enthusiastic about the election.
Meanwhile, older voters, Trump supporters, white evangelical Christians, and country voters — all large Republican groups — are poised to vote.
Democrats see upholding democracy and abortion rights as motivators for their base.
Since the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs, Roe v. Wade, Biden and his proxies have stressed that reproductive rights are at risk, citing Republican efforts to pass legislation banning abortion.
Biden frequently mentions both issues on the stump. He even brought it up in Wednesday’s interview on the Smartless podcast while speaking with hosts Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett.
“People have to vote,” said the President. “Look, the best example is the Supreme Court in the Dobbs decision, where there’s a line from one of the justices that says, ‘Women have the right to vote. We’ll see if they do.’ You saw what happened in Tennessee. Women showed up and voted. Women are signing up men for this new election significantly for the first time.’
Biden also voiced his concerns about election deniers.
“I worry about the states that have the election deniers in them, which practically makes it harder for them to vote. That’s what worries me about Supreme Court voting decisions that are coming down, that are going to come down,” he said.