Republicans are blasting President Biden’s prime-time address Thursday evening, which portrayed former President Trump and his supporters as a threat to democracy, casting the speech as condescending and at odds with uniting the country.
“Divider-in-Chief at his finest tonight,” Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) wrote on Twitter.
“President Biden took to the airwaves tonight to divide this country,” he wrote in a separate tweet. “This ‘state of the American democracy’ speech was just another opportunity to disparage his fellow Americans. Disgraceful.”
The White House had marketed Biden’s speech in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia as one about “the soul of the nation,” a phrase then-candidate Biden often used during his 2020 presidential campaign.
On Thursday, Biden used the speech to frame the upcoming midterm elections as a choice about whether the country will slip toward authoritarianism, repeatedly referring to Trump by name and tying his Make America Great Again movement to corrosive, anti-democratic ideas, like unfounded claims of election fraud.
White House officials pushed back strongly against notions that the speech was political, arguing that defending democracy is not a partisan issue.
Biden rounded out the address by touting recent policy wins on issues like police funding and the pandemic, but Republicans quickly rebutted the speech by emphasizing high inflation and crime rates, which have stymied Biden’s approval ratings.
“With all due respect Mr. President, there’s nothing wrong with America’s soul,” tweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “The American people are hurting because of your policies. Rampant inflation. Out of control crime. Terrorism on the rise. Broken borders. Stop lecturing & change your policies before it’s too late.”
Graham’s sentiment was echoed by many other Republicans.
“What would help the ‘soul of the nation’ much more than a condescending lecture from President Biden is getting inflation under control instead of actively spending more money to make it worse,” Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) wrote on Twitter.
Others in the GOP condemned Biden’s increasingly stark criticisms of “MAGA Republicans,” accusing him of factionalizing the country.
Many of those Republicans who lambasted Biden are speculated to be gearing up for presidential campaigns of their own in 2024, potentially setting up a head-to-head matchup with Biden down the road.
“That was a campaign speech under the guise of a presidential address,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) tweeted.
“Instead of focusing on issues impacting Americans, Biden demonized half the country to distract from his failures,” he continued. “We need leaders who work to make this nation stronger & safer, instead of tearing us apart.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Halley called Biden the most condescending president of her lifetime.
“He’s done nothing to unite the nation,” she tweeted. “Nothing to bring healing. Nothing to alleviate the pain millions of Americans feel everyday. He’s been a divider in chief and come November he must hear from all of us.”
“After much soul searching, President Biden has decided the greatest threat to American values are his political opponents,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) wrote on Twitter.
Multiple Republicans on Twitter shared an image of Biden during the speech with his fists raised in the air in front of Independence Hall, which was lit up red.
“He came across as a sad, angry, kind of bitter old man here,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told guest host Raymond Arroyo on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle,” before comparing Biden’s appearance to Darth Vader from the Star Wars franchise.
Jordan proceeded to lay out a laundry list of what he views as Biden’s policy failures, like annual inflation rates that recently hit roughly 40-year highs, gas prices that in June exceeded $5 per gallon on average and issues at the border.
“I think the nation would like those addressed versus being called extremists and fascists, and have the government now target your freedoms and liberties like we have seen from the Biden administration Justice Department,” Jordan said on Fox News.
Biden had called the “extreme MAGA philosophy” aligned with former President Trump as “like semi-fascism” during a speech last week. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called on Biden to apologize for the remark just prior to his primetime address.
Source: The Hill