Biden calls midterms a ‘watershed moment’ for democracy amid political violence and voter intimidation

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Wednesday the midterm elections were a “watershed moment” for democracy as threats of political violence and voter intimidation hover on the next elections.

In his closing remarks days before the midterms, Biden again called Holocaust deniers an existential threat to democracy, linking the Jan. 6 uprising to that of last week. attack on Paul Pelosi. Prosecutors said the alleged attacker was looking for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when he attacked her husband with a hammer.

“We must overwhelmingly oppose political violence and voter intimidation, period. Stand up and call him out,” Biden said in a roughly 20-minute speech near the Capitol. “We don’t settle our differences in America with a riot or a mob or a bullet or a hammer. We settle them peacefully at the polls. However, we must be honest with ourselves. We have to deal with this problem. We cannot turn away from it. We can’t pretend this is going to resolve itself.

Biden’s remarks echoed in part warnings he had issued about the threat posed by those spreading false information about the validity of the 2020 election and his argument that many Republican supporters of the former president donald trump promote “extremism”.

“We are facing a watershed moment, an inflection point, and we must with an overwhelming unified voice speak out as a country and say there is no room, no room for the bullying of voters or political violence in America, whether directed against Democrats or Republicans. , no place ever,” Biden said.

The president also stressed to voters that the election, which will take place in less than a week, will be crucial to preserving the nation’s democratic values ​​in the long term. In doing so, he accused his predecessor of threatening democracy by refusing to accept the 2020 election results.

“American democracy is under attack because the defeated former president of the United States refused to accept the results of the 2020 election, he refuses to accept the will of the people, he refuses to accept the fact that he has lost. He abused his power and put loyalty to himself ahead of loyalty to the Constitution,” Biden said.

Biden spoke at Union Station in Washington — a location chosen for its proximity to the U.S. Capitol, White House senior adviser Anita Dunn said at an event hosted by Axios earlier in the day.

“He will be doing the Capitol Hill speech, and why will he be doing the Capitol Hill speech? Because on January 6, we saw violence aimed at subverting democratic processes, so this is an appropriate place to make these remarks tonight,” Dunn said.

Sources familiar with the matter said while the topic had been on the president’s mind for some time, a number of developments added to the urgency, including the growing suggestion of some Republican officials they or they may not accept the election results and the fact that some Republicans have refused to denounce or have downright mocked Friday’s attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi.

Biden also pointed out that it could take several days for all the votes to be counted in some key swing states. In 2020, election deniers used the time it takes to hand-count mail-in ballots to make false accusations against election officials.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel called Biden’s remarks “desperate and dishonest.”

“Joe Biden promised unity but instead demonized and smeared Americans, while making life more expensive for everyone,” McDaniel said. “While Republicans remain focused on the issues that matter most to voters, Biden and Democrats are struggling in the past few days because they have lost touch with the concerns of families struggling to get by.”

Kristen Welker contributed.

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