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Biden to Address Threats to Democracy in Philadelphia Speech


WASHINGTON — When President Biden travels to Philadelphia on Thursday, he’ll turn his attention to the threat to American democracy, the very issue he said drove him to run for the presidency in the primary place.

Greater than a 12 months and a half after Mr. Biden pledged during his inauguration to “restore the soul and to secure the longer term of America,” he still believes democracy is in peril.

White House officials said Mr. Biden is anticipated to make use of the prime-time speech to take direct aim on the Republican Party as Democrats fight to retain their hold on Congress within the midterm elections in November.

“The MAGA Republicans are essentially the most energized a part of the Republican Party,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary. She said they present “an extreme threat to our democracy, to our freedom, to our rights. They only don’t respect the rule of law.”

Republicans have cited Mr. Biden’s rhetoric as evidence that he has fallen wanting his promise to bring the nation together.

“Biden has pitted neighbors against one another, labeled half of Americans as fascist, and tarnished any idea of his promise of ‘unity,’” Emma Vaughn, a Republican National Committee spokeswoman, said in an announcement.

Thursday can be Mr. Biden’s second visit to Pennsylvania in three days, and he is anticipated to make a 3rd on Labor Day. Pennsylvania, a swing state, will hold crucial races for the House and Senate in addition to a closely watched governor’s race.

During Mr. Biden’s first 12 months in office, he promised to bring a way of normalcy to the White House and he largely ignored former President Donald J. Trump. But Mr. Trump is once more on the fore, with investigations into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and an F.B.I. search of his Florida home for classified documents, and Mr. Biden is attempting to frame a vote for Republicans as a vote for extremism.

The speech comes at a time of deep national divisions.

In keeping with an NBC News poll released last month, nearly three-quarters of Americans consider the nation is heading within the incorrect direction. The F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security have issued multiple warnings about false claims about election fraud motivating extremists attacks.

“We’re in a crisis on this country. There’s little question about it. Not only when it comes to the sanctity of the vote or trusting our votes can be counted,” said Allida Black, a University of Virginia historian who had a personal meeting with Mr. Biden to debate the state of democracy last month. “We appear to attack quite than embrace responsibility and accountability.”

It isn’t the primary time Mr. Biden has delivered a speech that isn’t about policies or campaigns but quite the morality of the nation. He said he was inspired to run for office when white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. He had a “soul of the nation” bus tour throughout the presidential campaign and committed to unifying the nation during his inauguration.

Ms. Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday that Mr. Biden was working with senior advisers on drafts of his speech for Thursday.

“He sees the challenges increasing. He sees the threats increasing,” Ms. Black said, adding that the speech was a way for Mr. Biden to convey “I’m not backing down.”

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