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Biden Offers Dire Warnings About Trump 09/29 06:31

   President Joe Biden issued one of his most dire warnings yet that Donald 
Trump and his allies are a menace to American democracy, declaring Thursday 
that the former president is more interested in personal power than upholding 
the nation's core values and suggesting even mainstream Republicans are 

   TEMPE, Arizona (AP) -- President Joe Biden issued one of his most dire 
warnings yet that Donald Trump and his allies are a menace to American 
democracy, declaring Thursday that the former president is more interested in 
personal power than upholding the nation's core values and suggesting even 
mainstream Republicans are complicit.

   "The silence is deafening," he said.

   During a speech in Arizona celebrating a library to be built honoring his 
friend and fierce Trump critic, the late Republican Sen. John McCain, Biden 
repeated one of his key campaign themes, branding the "Make America Great 
Again" movement as an existential threat to the U.S. political system. He's 
reviving that idea ahead of next year's presidential race after it buoyed 
Democrats during last fall's midterm election, laying out the threat in 
especially stark terms: "There's something dangerous happening in America right 

   "We should all remember, democracies don't have to die at the end of a 
rifle," Biden said. "They can die when people are silent, when they fail to 
stand up or condemn threats to democracy, when people are willing to give away 
that which is most precious to them because they feel frustrated, 
disillusioned, tired, alienated."

   The 2024 election is still more than a year away, yet Biden's focus reflects 
Trump's status as the undisputed frontrunner for his party's nomination despite 
facing four indictments, two of them related to his attempts to overturn 
Biden's 2020 victory.

   The president's speech was his fourth in a series of addresses on what he 
sees as challenges to democracy, a topic that is a touchstone for him as he 
tries to remain in office in the face of low approval ratings and widespread 
concern from voters about his age, 80.

   He used this line of political attack frequently ahead of last year's 
midterms, when Democrats gained a Senate seat and only narrowly lost the House 
to the GOP. But shifting the narrative in Washington could be especially tricky 
given that Biden is facing mounting pressure on Capitol Hill, where House 
Republicans held the first hearing in their impeachment inquiry and where the 
prospect of a government shutdown looms -- a prospect Trump has actively egged 

   On the first anniversary of Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters 
staged an insurrection, Biden visited the Capitol and accused Trump of 
continuing to hold a "dagger" at democracy's throat. He closed out the summer 
that year in the shadow of Philadelphia's Independence Hall, decrying Trumpism 
as a menace to democratic institutions.

   And in November, as voters were casting midterm ballots, Biden again sounded 
a clarion call to protect democratic institutions.

   Advisers see the president's continued focus on democracy as both good 
policy and good politics. Campaign officials have pored over the election 
results from last November, when candidates who denied the 2020 election 
results did not fare well in competitive races, and point to polling that 
showed democracy was a highly motivating issue for voters in 2022.

   "Our task, our sacred task of our time, is to make sure that they change not 
for the worst but for the better, that democracy survives and thrives, not be 
smashed by a movement more interested in power than a principle," Biden said 
Thursday. "It's up to us, the American people."

   Like previous speeches the latest location was chosen for effect. It was 
near Arizona State University, which houses the McCain Institute, named after 
the late senator, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee who spent his public 
life denouncing autocrats around the globe.

   Biden said that "there is no question that today's Republican Party is 
driven and intimidated by MAGA extremists." He pointed to Trump's recent 
suggestion that Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who 
is stepping down from his post on Friday, should be executed for allegedly 
treasonous betrayal of him.

   "Although I don't believe even a majority of Republicans think that, the 
silence is deafening," Biden added. He also noted that Trump has previously 
questioned those who serve in the U.S. military calling "service members 
suckers and losers. Was John a sucker?" Biden asked, referring to McCain, who 
survived long imprisonment in Vietnam.

   Then he got even more personal adding, "Was my son, Beau -- who lived next 
to a burn pit for a year and came home and died -- was he a sucker for 
volunteering to serve his country?"

   The late senator's wife, Cindy McCain, said the library, which is still to 
be built, grew out of bipartisan support from Biden, Democratic Gov. Katie 
Hobbs and her predecessor, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. She called it "a fitting 
legacy for my husband" and recalled how the Bidens introduced her to her future 
husband decades ago.

   "I am so grateful for that," Cindy McCain said, her voice cracking.

   Later Thursday, the Treasury Department announced $83 million in federal 
funds to help construct the 83,000-square-foot library near Papago Park.

   Republicans competing with Trump for their party's 2024 presidential 
nomination have largely avoided challenging his election falsehoods, and Biden 
said Thursday that voters can't let them get away with it.

   "Democracy is not a partisan issue," he said. "It's An American issue."

   After the speech, Biden spoke at an Arizona fundraiser for his reelection 
campaign. The attendees included Brittney Griner, the basketball star who was 
arrested last year at the airport in Moscow on drug-related charges and 
detained for nearly 10 months.

   A number of candidates who backed Trump's election lies and were running for 
statewide offices with some influence over elections -- governor, secretary of 
state, attorney general -- lost their midterm races in every presidential 
battleground state.

   Still, in few states does Biden's message of democracy resonate more than in 
Arizona, which became politically competitive during Trump's presidency after 
seven decades of Republican dominance. Biden's victory made the state a hotbed 
of efforts to overturn or cast doubt on the results, and some GOP candidates 
continue to deny basic facts on elections.

   That's help reinforce other claims from Democrats about GOP extremism on 
other, separate issues, said Republican officials who spoke on condition of 
anonymity to candidly describe the party's election shortcomings last year. 
Though Trump-animated forces in the party dominate public attention, many 
Republican voters were concerned about other issues such as the economy and the 
border and did not want to focus on an election result that was two years old.

   Republican state lawmakers used their subpoena power to obtain all the 2020 
ballots and vote-counting machines from Maricopa County, then hired Trump 
supporters to conduct an unprecedented partisan review of the election. The 
widely mocked spectacleconfirmed Biden's victory but fueled unfounded 
conspiracy theories about the election and spurred an exodus of election 

   In the midterms, voters up and down the ballot rejected Republican 
candidates who repeatedly denied the results of the 2020 election. But Kari 
Lake, the GOP gubernatorial candidate, has never conceded her loss to Hobbs and 
plans to launch a bid for the U.S. Senate. Last year, Republican Senate 
candidate Blake Masters and Mark Finchem, who ran for secretary of state, also 
repeated fraudulent election claims in their campaigns.

   Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., who defeated Masters, said the importance of 
defending democracy resonates not only with members of his own party but 
independents and moderate GOP voters.

   "I met so many Republicans that were sick and tired of the lies about an 
election that was two years old," Kelly said.

   Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in next 
year's Senate race, said a democracy-focused message is particularly important 
to two critical blocs of voters in the state: Latinos and veterans, both of 
whom Gallego said are uniquely affected by election denialism and the Jan. 6 
Capitol insurrection.

   "You know, we come from countries and experiences where democracy is very 
corrupt, and many of us are only one generation removed from that, but we're 
close enough to see how bad it can be," Gallego said. "And so Jan. 6 actually 
was particularly jarring, I think, to Latinos."

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