Republicans are very mad that President Joe Biden had the gall, in a prime-time speech on Thursday, to denounce Republicans who support the overturning of elections.
Certain Republicans claim that Biden insulted “half the country” by calling on the nation to reject “MAGA Republicans” who subscribe to Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” philosophy and who refuse to accept the results of a free election.
“Joe Biden’s hate-filled and menacing rhetoric tonight was disgraceful,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) tweeted Thursday. “His behavior is increasingly erratic. And his threats against half the country ― his fellow citizens ― are dangerous.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Biden should “apologize for slandering tens of millions of Americans as fascists,” referring to Biden’s comments last week where he described the MAGA philosophy as “semi-fascism.”
Both Hawley and McCarthy voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, despite no evidence of widespread fraud. They helped fan the flames of insurrection, and continue to support a man who attempted a coup.
In his blistering speech in Philadelphia on Thursday, Biden laid out what he considers the key characteristics of MAGA Republicans.
“They do not believe in the rule of law,” Biden said. “They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election.”
“They look at the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6th — brutally attacking law enforcement — not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger to the throat of our democracy, but they look at them as patriots,” he said.
Earlier on Thursday, Trump had illustrated Biden’s point by vowing that if he ran again for president in 2024 and won, he would strongly consider pardoning people who were convicted of crimes related to the riot at the U.S. Capitol. “I mean full pardons with an apology,” Trump said.
Still, Biden sought to draw a distinction between the Republicans who he said present a threat to democracy, and those who do not because they respect the Constitution and disapprove of the Capitol riot.
“Not every Republican, not even a majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans,” Biden said. “Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology.”
The lighting of Biden's speech, at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, prompted some conservatives to draw comparisons to Adolf Hitler and Satan. (Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images)
But various Republicans are treating his speech as an affront to every person in their party. A majority of Republicans in Congress, after all, voted to overturn the 2020 election results even after rioters had trashed the Capitol.
“Instead of trying to unite America, it was alarming to see President Biden effectively label half the country ― including millions of Alabamians ― as enemies of the state,” Alabama GOP Senate nominee Katie Britt tweeted.
Some Republicans reacted to the speech by claiming that actually, Biden is the real fascist, because the FBI searched Trump’s Florida estate last month and found boxes of deeply classified documents the former president had refused to hand over ― a violation of the Presidential Records Act and a possible act of obstruction of justice.
“He had his secret police kick in Trump’s door. Now he’s lecturing us on ‘protecting democracy.’ JOE BIDEN IS THE FASCIST!!” tweeted Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas).
“Joe Biden is a complete fascist,” former New York City mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said. “He’s the one putting people in jail who are his political enemies. He is the one putting up mandates getting knocked down by the courts. It’s called abuse of power. How many abuses of power add up to fascism?”
Other Republicans highlighted the stark black-and-red backdrop of Biden’s speech, which seemed almost like a nod to the “Dark Brandon” memes that portray the elderly Biden as some sort of fearsome antihero with laser eyeballs. The lighting design included red and blue lights reflecting off the edifice of Independence Hall, where the nation’s Founding Fathers gathered. But in many photos and video clips of the speech, only the red lighting was visible.
“I mean, just the setting is frightening. It’s just dark,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt.
They also complained about the positioning of a pair of U.S. Marines who stood behind Biden as he spoke ― though Trump often politicized the military when he was president.
“The only thing worse than Biden’s speech trashing his fellow citizens is wrapping himself in our flag and Marines to do it,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) tweeted.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.