In campaign launch, Biden casts Trump as power-craving threat to democracy

(The Center Square) – At a community college in suburban Philadelphia, President Joe Biden kicked off his reelection campaign by decrying Donald Trump as a threat to American democracy.

“Trump talks about the blood of America being poisoned, echoing the same exact language used in Nazi Germany,” Biden said of his White House predecessor. “He proudly posts on social media the words that best describe his 2024 campaign: ‘Revenge. Power. Dictatorship.’”

The choice, Biden says, is clear.

“There’s no confusion about who Trump is or what he intends to do,” he said. “Trump is trying to steal history the same way he tried to steal the election.”

The president cast himself as the guardian of democracy, standing against Trump – or any other Republican nominee.

“The defense, protection, and preservation of American democracy will remain, as it has been, the central cause of my presidency,” Biden said. “These MAGA voices who know the truth about Trump … have abandoned truth and abandoned democracy. They made their choice. Now the rest of us – Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans – have to make ours.”

Speaking a few miles from Valley Forge where he toured earlier in the day, Biden called upon the memory of Americans fighting against a powerful empire for “the sacred cause” of democracy, “the spirit of the troops” led by Gen. George Washington for “the soul of the nation struggling to be born.”

“With one heart and one mind, with fortitude and with patience, they would overcome every difficulty,” he said.

Biden contrasted American history to Jan. 6, 2021, a day “that we nearly lost America” as “insurrectionists came to stop the peaceful transfer of power.”

“As America was attacked from within … the entire nation watched in horror, the whole world watched in disbelief – and Trump did nothing,” Biden said. “It was among the worst derelictions of duty by a president in American history.”

He decried political violence as a threat to America. The American system is one, he said, where leaders don’t hold on to power relentlessly; they serve, then willingly return power to the people.

“You do your duty,” Biden said. “You serve your country – and our country is a country worthy of service.”

The president questioned Trump’s dedication to the country.

“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, put himself in power. Our campaign is different – it’s about America, it’s about you.”

America, Biden said, is where people speak of possibilities, not carnage, where Americans aren’t weighed down by grievances and don’t walk around as victims.

“We’re not perfect, but at our best we face head-on the good, the bad, the truth of who we are … That’s what great nations do, and we’re the greatest nation on the face of the earth,” Biden said. “We take charge of our destiny.”

Biden’s speech focused on the danger that awaits if Trump returns to the White House, and Pennsylvania Democrats in attendance made the case for what Biden can do for the commonwealth.

“I get the fact that Pennsylvanians are worried about rising costs, they’re worried about good schools, they’re worried about public safety – they shouldn’t also have to be worried about their democracy,” first-term Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro said. “Donald Trump presents a clear and present danger to our democracy.”

Just as voters of both parties “came together to reject extremism,” he said, the same needs to happen in 2024.

“(Trump) brought real chaos to this country and we should not allow that to come back,” Shapiro said.

The governor said Biden’s first term has already made the lives of Pennslyvanians better.

“The president has a strong record to sell in terms of what he’s done for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” he said. “Whether it is helping us rebuild I-95 in just 12 days, whether it’s the investments he’s making to literally connect everyone to high-speed, affordable internet in our rural communities over the course of the next five years, whether it is the historic investments he’s made in clean energy right here.”

U.S. Sen. John Fetterman told The Center Square that the election will be tough, but Biden will win again in Pennsylvania.

“It’s good versus evil, it’s just democracy – our democracy is on the line and that’s been very clear,” he said. “Whoever wins Pennsylvania is going to be the next president.”

Fetterman said a Biden win gives Pennsylvania an advantage.

“His whole career in the Senate, he’s been our third senator,” Fetterman said. “He knows Pennsylvania better than anybody … I’ll show up with him anytime.”

Democrats from across the state showed up for Biden’s appearance, as well as a dozen pro-Trump protesters and about two dozen pro-Palestinian protesters demanding a ceasefire for the war between Israel and Hamas.

“The people need to understand Trump’s character … democracy truly is on the ballot,” said Rep. Ryan Bizarro, D-Erie. “We’ve got to support candidates who are pro-democracy and truly patriotic, and that’s Joe Biden.”