President Joe Biden will travel to Philadelphia on Thursday for a primetime speech on “the continued battle for the soul of the nation” in front of Independence Hall, the White House said Monday.
The speech will come a week after the President returned to the campaign trail with a fiery speech in which he offered one of his sharpest rebukes of Republicans who have stuck to the credo of his predecessor, labeling it “semi-fascism” and predicting it has gone too far for most of the country. NBC News was first to report on the Philadelphia speech.
In that speech last week, Biden test-ran the message he is expected to tout aggressively for Democrats this fall. It also showed how his attacks on Trump, and Republicans who have remained loyal to him, have grown distinctly sharper as November’s midterm elections approach.
“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden told a group of Democratic donors at a private home in Maryland ahead of the rally.
“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.”
In a speech in Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday, Biden will also drive home a familiar criticism he has leveled at Trump and those around him: that they cannot pretend to support law enforcement while threatening the FBI and supporting those who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, a senior administration official told CNN.
Biden will also devote a significant portion of his speech in Wilkes-Barre to pushing for an assault weapons ban, viewing it as a “defining” and “powerful issue that has broad bipartisan support,” the official said.
Labeling Trump’s views a type of proto-fascism marked an escalation in Biden’s reprimands of his predecessor, and laid the groundwork for a midterm political message designed to paint his opponents as too extreme for most voters.
Biden said throughout the 2020 campaign that he was running to restore the “soul of the nation” and he and his White House have returned to that statement repeatedly throughout his first years in office.
Vice President Kamala Harris also took to the campaign trail Saturday, and issued a stark warning on threats to democracy during a DNC fundraiser in California.
“I was there in Washington, DC, after the election, when we won, and on January 6, I was there in Washington, DC – I was still a senator and the vice president-elect – when there was a direct, tangible attack on our democracy,” Harris told supporters. “When we talk about what is at stake, in terms of who represents what, we have to understand that this is a moment in time that challenges everyone running for office to state where they stand on preserving and defending our democracy.”
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.