Trump willing to sacrifice US democracy, Biden says

President's first speech of 2024 delivered ahead of third anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riots

Biden officially launches campaign for second US presidential campaign

Biden officially launches campaign for second US presidential campaign
Powered by automated translation

US President Joe Biden on Friday delivered a searing attack against Donald Trump, accusing his predecessor of being willing to sacrifice America's democracy and comparing the billionaire's rhetoric to that of Nazi Germany.

Speaking on the eve of the third anniversary of the storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6, 2021, Mr Biden denounced the former president for supporting those involved.

“What’s Trump done? He’s called these insurrectionists ‘patriots,’” Mr Biden said. “And he promised to pardon them if he returns to office.”

He went on to blast Mr Trump, the putative Republican nominee to run in November's presidential election, for “glorifying” rather than condemning political violence.

The speech set the stage for a bitter rematch of the 2020 election, when Mr Biden beat Mr Trump by about seven million votes.

“Donald Trump's campaign is about him, not America, not you,” Mr 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.”

Mr Trump was president from 2017 to 2021 and is currently leading the field of Republican candidates for president. In November 2020, he ran for re-election against Mr Biden but lost.

“He talks about the blood of Americans being poisoned, echoing the same exact language used in Nazi Germany,” said Mr Biden, who was greeted by chants from supporters of “four more years”.

On January 6, 2021, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of the presidential election.

At least nine people who were at the Capitol died during or after the rioting, including several police officers who took their own lives. Police killed one woman as she tried to break into the House chamber, and three other Trump supporters died after suffering medical emergencies.

In the weeks before the insurrection, Mr Trump refused to concede his defeat to Mr Biden and spread falsehoods about the election being rigged against him.

“We nearly lost America, lost it all. Today we're here to answer the most important question. Is democracy still America's sacred cause?”

January 6, 2021 - in pictures

Dozens of those who participated in the Capitol riots as well as a number of other Trump supporters have been tried and sentenced, and the former president himself is facing 91 felony counts in four criminal cases, including charges stemming from his efforts to overturn his election loss. His trials, the first of which begins in March, pose unprecedented challenges for a candidate.

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung immediately reacted to the speech, saying that Mr “Biden is the real threat to democracy by weaponising the government to go after his main political opponent and interfering in the 2024 election”.

The former president hit back at Mr Biden at a rally in Iowa where he painted the US as a "failing" nation, beset by "terrorists" and immigrants from "mental asylums" pouring over the US-Mexico border.

"Not one thing has gotten better under crooked Joe Biden. Everything's a mess," Mr Trump told a crowd of several hundred cheering supporters.

Mr Biden faces dismal approval ratings – 39 per cent – the worst of any modern-day president heading aiming for re-election, according to a according to a Gallup poll in December. There are also concerns over his age and capacity to perform the exhausting job.

In his first campaign speech of 2024, Mr Biden addressed a crowd near Valley Forge, the historic site in Pennsylvania where George Washington and his Continental Army spent a bitter winter during the American war of independence nearly 250 years ago.

“This army didn't have blankets and food, clothes and shoes. This army marched with bloody footprints in the snow,” he said.

“Their mission, George Washington declared was nothing less than a sacred cause – that was a phrase he used – the sacred call to freedom, liberty, democracy, American democracy.

Mr Biden, who in 2020 ran on a campaign promise to heal “the soul of the nation” after seeing white supremacist groups marching with flaming torches and chanting anti-Semitic slogans in Charlottesville, Virginia, has alienated many of his voters.

His response to the Israel-Gaza war has deeply angered Muslim and Arab Americans, as well as young and progressive members of his own Democratic Party.

The stakes are high as Mr Biden's re-election could be decided by how he performs in a handful of key battleground states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania – states he narrowly won in the last election, and home to sizeable Muslim and Arab populations.

Arizona, Nevada and Georgia are also must-wins.

With inflation dropping, cheaper petrol and low unemployment, the US economy is on a stronger footing than four years ago. But while Democrats have pushed this message, many American voters remain angry over high interest rates.

Meanwhile, Republican officials have been attacking Mr Biden's record on immigration and his handling of the US-Mexico border, which is seeing a spike in crossings. The issue, a signature topic of Mr Trump's last presidency, is likely to take centre-stage once again.

Updated: March 06, 2024, 11:33 AM