The White House says President Biden will head to Philadelphia on Thursday for prime-time address where he will argue that America’s democracy remains “under attack” and highlight “who is fighting” to protect the nation’s freedoms.
The speech, in the crucial general election battleground state of Pennsylvania, comes less than 10 weeks ahead of the November’s midterm elections, when the Democrats hope to hold onto their razor-thin majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The address also comes as Biden has raised his rhetoric in recent days, targeting what he argues are anti-Democratic “MAGA Republicans” who have embraced “semi-facism.”
The president will speak at Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, where the Declaration of Independence and the nation’s Constitution were debated and signed.
“He will speak about how the core values of this nation — our standing in the world, our democracy — are at stake,” a White House official confirmed to Fox News. “He will talk about the progress we have made as a nation to protect our democracy, but how our rights and freedoms are still under attack.”
The White House official added that the president “will make clear who is fighting for those rights, fighting for those freedoms, and fighting for our democracy.”
Last week, in comments that received plenty of pushback from Republicans, the president blasted a GOP that is still very much under the firm grip of former President Trump, Biden’s predecessor in the White House.
“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden told Democratic donors at a gathering in Maryland. “It’s not just Trump,” he went on, “it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something: It’s like semi-fascism.”
And at an ensuing Democratic National Committee rally that evening, the president charged that “MAGA Republicans don’t just threaten our personal rights and economic security, they’re a threat to our very democracy.”
The Republican National Committee criticized the president’s recent jabs at the GOP.
“Biden has pitted neighbors against each other, labeled half of Americans as fascist, and tarnished any idea of his promise of ‘unity.’ Families are left with a recession, high gas prices, and a nation on the wrong track,” RNC spokesperson Emma Vaughn said in a statement.
Thursday’s address, one of only a few Biden has given in prime time since entering the White House over a year and a half ago, is not being billed as a political speech. Additionally, the president may not repeat his stinging attacks on Trump and his legions of loyalists in the GOP.
However, the theme of working to protect the nation’s democracy and rule of law has been a common one for Biden dating back to the launch of his successful presidential campaign more than three years ago. He repeatedly noted that viewing the controversial and violent protests by White supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 motivated him to make a third White House bid.
The president’s choice of Philadelphia as the setting for his address comes as no surprise. Biden, in May 2019, held the first major rally of his successful presidential campaign in the city, which is located halfway between his native Scranton, Pennsylvania and his longtime hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden’s Thursday speech will be his third stop in Pennsylvania in just one week. The president afternoon heads to Wilkes-Barre Tuesday afternoon to highlight his $37 billion crime fighting and police funding plan aimed at making communities safer amid a surge in violence. Biden canceled the trip last month after testing positive for COVID-19. On Monday, the president will travel to Pittsburgh to mark Labor Day.
Those trips will bring the total number of visits Biden’s made to Pennsylvania since his inauguration as president to 16 — more than any state other than his home state of Delaware, and Virginia and Maryland, which border the nation’s capital.
Pennsylvania, long a crucial general election swing state, is home this cycle to crucial gubernatorial, Senate, and House showdowns.
The visits come as Biden’s poll numbers continue to rebound after sinking deep into negative territory over the past year, fueled in part by rocketing gas prices and record inflation. With prices at the pump continuing to fall, inflation slightly easing, and with a slew of recent legislative successes, the president’s approval ratings — while still well underwater — have edged up over the past month and a half.
Fox News’ Patrick Ward contributed to this report