Biden calls Trump's philosophy 'semi-fascism'

At a Democratic fundraising event in Maryland, the president denounced his predecessor and followers he labeled as "extreme" Republicans.

Exuberant over a string of recent legislative victories, and launching his midterm campaigning in earnest, President Joe Biden swaggered into Maryland on Thursday and excoriated his predecessor’s philosophy as “semi-fascism,” in what constituted an unusually pointed and highly charged denunciation of Republicans.

“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden told Democratic donors in the Washington suburb of Rockville. Calling out those he labeled as “extreme” Republicans, Biden said: “It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism.”

Later, at a national Democratic Party event before a few thousand people packed into a nearby high school gym, Biden added: “I respect conservative Republicans. I don’t respect these MAGA Republicans.”

“There are not many real Republicans anymore,” Biden added.

No president in recent memory has had a better month of August, lifting the mood inside the White House and injecting fresh hope across the party ahead of what long looked like a bleak midterm election. In recent weeks, Democrats have passed a slew of marquee bills filled with deliverables that Biden ticked through in his speeches. The president painted the last year-plus as something of an American comeback — and a recovery from the depths of the pandemic and economic turmoil: “We’ve come a long way,” he said.

And after a recent stretch of self-isolation as he recovered from Covid, Biden appeared to relish the opportunity to close out the night by wading into the audience and spending several minutes grinning for selfies.

Republicans called the president’s comment about fascism “despicable,” with a spokesperson for the GOP saying Americans are still “suffering” from high inflation.

For Biden, spending the evening in a blue state with few competitive elections pointed to the careful calculation the White House faces in deploying him over the next 75 days. While the president’s approval numbers have ticked up of late, he still hovers around the low- to mid-40s, and many Democrats remain reluctant to appear with him.

Onstage in Rockville, Biden highlighted his administration’s recent cancellation of student loan debt, as well as Democrats’ ongoing fight for abortion rights. He listed other campaign promises yet unfulfilled, including universal pre-K. At one point, he presided over a slideshow presentation that highlighted the plan of Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the head of the Republican Party’s Senate campaign arm, to sunset federal programs every five years. Biden said that includes Medicare and Social Security.

“The MAGA Republicans don’t just threaten our personal rights and economic security,” the president said. “They’re a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace political violence. They don’t believe in democracy.”

Wading into the impact of his climate and health care legislation, Biden said that “the survival of our planet is on the ballot.” If Republicans win control of Congress, he noted, “it won’t matter where you live: Women won’t have the right to choose anywhere. Anywhere.”

Earlier, he criticized the impact the Trump administration had on the United States’ stature in global politics, referring to Russian President Vladmir Putin’s recent aggression in Ukraine.

“I underestimated how much damage the previous four years had done in terms of America’s reputation in the world,” Biden said.

Biden’s rally brought in more than 3,600 people in a gym and two overflow rooms. The Democratic National Committee has reported record midterm fundraising for this point in the year, at $255 million for this cycle and $92 million for the year.