Tied to Saturday’s third anniversary of the attack on the Capitol, the speech also was intended to be a reminder of what happened that day, amid polling showing significant numbers of Republicans embracing conspiracy theories or diminishing what actually happened then.
“Donald Trump is trying to steal history in the same way he is trying to steal the election,” Biden said.
All the major news networks carried the speech. At one point, Biden made reference to the $787.5 million settlement that Fox News made last year with Dominion Voting Systems “for the lies they told about voter fraud.” Trump’s embrace of the falsehood that the election was rigged and stolen from him, despite losing dozens of court challenges, gave fuel to the attack on the Capitol.
Biden speech, taking place near Valley Forge, PA, was heavy in references to George Washington, as Biden referred to the nation’s founder’s decision to give up power at the end of the Revolutionary War as a great moment in history, setting a democratic norm that defined America but one that Trump has violated.
The president also slammed Trump’s allies and supporters, noting that some who had condemned the January 6th attack no longer are doing so.
“As time has gone on — politics, fear, money – have all intervened,” Biden said. “And those MAGA voices who know the truth about Trump and January 6th have abandoned the truth and abandoned our democracy. They’ve made their choice. Now the rest of us – Democrats, Independents, mainstream Republicans – we have to make our choice.”
The speech was singularly focused on Trump and did not even mention any of this rivals, the assumption being that the former president will win the Republican nomination. Trump has had a wide lead, but some recent polls show former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley gaining ground in New Hampshire.
Biden noted that at Trump’s kickoff rally featured a convicted “January 6th insurrectionist singing from prison on a cell phone while images of the January 6th riot played the big screen behind him…Can you believe that? This is like something out of a fairy tale — a bad fairy tale.”
Other parts of the speech seemed to be an effort to trigger Trump, as when Biden repeatedly used the word “loser” to describe what happened in 2020. “I won the election, and he was the loser,” Biden said.