One day after President Joe Biden called Republican supporters of former President Donald Trump threats to the republic, he backtracked.
“I don’t consider any Trump supporter to be a threat to the country,” he told reporters Friday after an economic event. “I do think anyone who calls for the use of violence, fails to condemn violence when it’s used, refuses to acknowledge an election has been won, insists upon changing the way in which we rule and count votes, that is a threat to democracy.”
The president’s Friday remarks are a far cry from his vitriol voiced during Thursday’s speech flanked by Marines with Independence Hall as a historical backrop.
“MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution,” Biden said Thursday. “They did not believe in the rule of law. They did not recognize the will of the people. They refused to accept the results of a free election.”
“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal,” Biden said at another point in his Thursday address. “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
Many conservatives were shocked to hear the president say supporters of the law-and-order party do not believe in the rule of law. Among them was the Daily Wire’s editor Ben Shapiro.
“That was the most demagogic, outrageous, and divisive speech I have ever seen from an American president,” Shapiro said in a Thursday evening Twitter post. “Joe Biden essentially declared all those who oppose him and his agenda enemies of the republic. Truly shameful.”
A question from a Fox News reporter gave the president space to walk back Thursday’s demonization of the 75 million Americans who voted for Trump. Fox News has leveled considerable criticism of the Thursday norm-bending presidential address.
“People voted for Donald Trump and support him now, they weren’t voting for attacking the Capitol,” Biden said, referring to the Capitol riot that occurred after a Trump rally in Washington, D.C.
Biden tempered his previous remarks, noting Friday that does not mean every Trump supporter condones political violence.
“They weren’t voting for overruling an election,” the president said. “They were voting for a philosophy he put forward.” So I am not talking about anything other than … a failure to recognize and condemn violence whenever it’s used for these purposes. Failure to condemn an attempt to manipulate electoral outcomes, failure to acknowledge when elections are won or lost.”
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