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Biden attacks Trump, saying his wing of the Republican party is a threat to democracy

President Joe Biden speaks outside Independence Hall on Sept. 1, in Philadelphia.
Evan Vucci
President Joe Biden speaks outside Independence Hall on Sept. 1, in Philadelphia.

President Biden is giving a rare prime-time speech on Thursday on what he calls the "battle for the soul of the nation" — including threats posed by a faction of the Republican party tied to former President Donald Trump.

It's a message that comes just two months ahead of the midterm congressional elections, where Democrats are fighting to keep their slim majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives. Biden is expected to travel to key states in upcoming weeks to campaign for Democratic candidates.

The speech from the Independence National Historical Park in downtown Philadelphia marks a return to a message Biden used in his 2020 campaign.

Watch the speech here at 8 p.m. ET:

"For a long time, we've reassured ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed," Biden will say, according to excerpts of remarks released by the White House. "But it is not. We have to defend it. Protect it. Stand up for it. Each and every one of us."

The White House calls supporters of Trump "MAGA Republicans" — referring to the 'Make America Great Again' slogan used by the former president. Biden says they must be confronted.

"MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards," he will say, according to the excerpts. "Backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love."

In recent weeks, Biden has said they support a form of semi-fascism, and has excoriated them for embracing political violence in their refusal to accept the results of the election.

Republicans have criticized Biden for being divisive. Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the president was pitting Americans against each other.

"Joe Biden is the divider-in-chief and epitomizes the current state of the Democrat Party: one of divisiveness, disgust, and hostility towards half the country," McDaniel said in a statement.

After months of struggling in the polls, Biden is seeking to capitalize on a series of legislative wins, concerns about the impact of the Supreme Court's abortion ruling --- as well as from ongoing coverage of Trump's legal problems, said Doug Sosnik, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton.

Democrats are working to capitalize on this newfound momentum ahead of the midterms, particularly with independent voters, Sosnik said.

"In a world that's increasingly become bifurcated, the center here is the 30% of the people out there who are, you know, open to persuasion," he said.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.
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