President Joe Biden on Friday shot down criticism from Republican pundits over his condemnation of the way many of former president Donald Trump’s allies have embraced violence as a means to their political ends.
The president was speaking in the White House’s South Court Auditorium regarding the success of the American Rescue Plan Covid relief package when a reporter questioned him about comments he’d made on Thursday during a primetime speech from Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park.
Speaking in front of Independence Hall, Mr Biden condemned the “Maga forces” who dominate the Republican Party leadership ranks for failing to condemn the January 6 Capitol riot, for promoting “authoritarian leaders,” for “fan[ning] the flames of political violence” and refusing to accept results of the 2020 election.
Asked whether he believes all of Mr Trump’s supporters are a threat, Mr Biden replied: “I don’t consider any Trump supporter a threat to the country”.
The president said those Americans who voted for his opponent in the 2020 election were not voting for a riot at the Capitol or to overturn the results of a free and fair contest.
“When people voted for Donald Trump – and support him now – they weren’t voting for attacking the Capitol. They weren’t voting for overruling the election. They were going for a philosophy he put forward,” he said.
He went on to stress that the threat he spoke of the previous night was from those who pushed for those things.
“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,” he said.
“Everything we stand for rests on the platform of democracy. So I am not talking about anything other than it is inappropriate. And it’s not only happening here, but other parts of the world with failure to recognize and condemn violence whenever it’s used for those purposes, failure to condemn the attempt to manipulate an electrical outcome, failure to acknowledge when elections were won or lost.”