by Kevin Robillard at huffpost.com
President Joe Biden tore into former President Donald Trump in a speech Friday, describing his likely Republican opponent as a wannabe authoritarian who is willing to destroy a quarter-millennium of American democracy to hold on to power.
“As we begin this election year, we must be clear: Democracy is on the ballot,” Biden said at Montgomery County Community College outside of Philadelphia. “Your freedom is on the ballot.”
Though Biden has repeatedly delivered speeches warning about the threat the Trump-led Republican Party poses to democratic institutions, Friday’s speech was noteworthy for the sheer number of direct attacks on Trump, whom he has tried to avoid focusing on for the first half of his presidency. He noted the former president’s recent use of rhetoric echoing Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and his expressed desire for “revenge,” and he suggested Trump was not only a threat to Americans’ voting rights but also their broader freedoms. He called his predecessor “sick” for laughing about the October 2022 attack on former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul.
“Donald Trump’s campaign is about him, not America, not you,” Biden said. “Donald Trump’s campaign is obsessed with the past, not the future. He’s willing to sacrifice our democracy to put himself in power.”
Though the speech’s timing may seem obvious (it was scheduled for Saturday, the third anniversary of the U.S. Capitol attack, but was moved up because of an approaching winter storm), the location was also important. Biden contrasted the sacrifices made by Gen. George Washington’s troops at nearby Valley Forge and Washington’s decision two decades later to allow for a peaceful presidential transfer of power to Trump’s own refusal to accept his reelection defeat.“
Donald Trump exhausted every legal avenue available to him to overturn the election. Every one,” Biden said. “But the legal path just took Trump back to the truth: that I had won the election and he was a loser.”