President Joe Biden used his bully pulpit Thursday to call roughly half the country that supported former President Donald Trump semi-fascists during an outdoor fundraising gathering with donors prior to a Democratic rally in Maryland.
"We're seeing now either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA agenda," Reuters reported Biden saying at the fundraiser, referring to former President Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan. "It's not just Trump. ... It's almost semi-fascism."
Later, at the public rally, Biden again served up vitriolic rhetoric about MAGA Republicans.
"Trump and the extreme MAGA Republicans have made their choice," Biden said to the party faithful. "To go backwards, full of anger, violence, hate and division.
"MAGA Republicans don't just threaten our personal rights and economic security," Biden said. "They are a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace — embrace — political violence. They don't believe in democracy."
On Friday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended her boss' remarks about his political opponents.
"Look, what the president said last night was that when it comes to MAGA Republicans, when it comes to the extreme, ultra-wing of Republicans, they are attacking democracy," she said. "They are attacking — taking away rights and freedoms.
"They are using threat of — threats of violence. They are taking away voting rights. And he called it what it is. That's what he did. He called it what it is and what many, we would argue, you know, historians would agree with us on."
She told reporters that while Biden respects "conservative Republicans," it is those who align with Trump and the MAGA movement that he cannot respect, and that he was clarifying that for the voters.
"So, but we have to really, you know, make sure that we ... make it clear that there's a choice in front of the American people, right? And we have to make sure that we make it loud and clear that when it comes to MAGA Republicans, we call that out. And that's what he did and what they're doing, right? What they're doing in attacking our democracy," she said.
"Look, I was very clear when, when laying out and defining what, you know, MAGA Republicans have done. And you look at the definition of 'fascism,' and you think about what they're doing in attacking our democracy, what they're doing in taking away our freedoms, taking away — wanting to take away our rights, our voting rights.
"I mean, that is what that is; it is very clear. And that's why he made that ... powerful speech that you heard from him last night. And he has not shied away from saying that. You have heard him — maybe not use that specific word, but you have heard him certainly use that definition."
Merriam-Webster defines "fascism" as: "a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition."
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