President Joe Biden urged voters to reject his predecessor’s “MAGA” values and work to defend American democracy in an impassioned speech Wednesday night, just days after a man violently attacked the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Biden, speaking from Union Station in Washington, D.C., gave the televised address just days before the midterm elections, saying democracy was on the ballot amid political violence and voter suppression efforts linked to a cycle of “lies, conspiracy and malice.”
“In this moment, we have to confront those lies with the truth. The very future of our nation depends on it,” the president said. “We’re facing a defining moment, and inflection point, and we must with one overwhelming, unified voice speak as a country and say there’s no place for voter intimidation or political violence in America.”
His comments come less than a week after a man broke into Pelosi’s home in San Francisco in the early morning hours, confronting her husband, Paul Pelosi, and asking “Where’s Nancy?”
Police say the suspect, identified as David DePape, hoped to kidnap the Democratic leader and “break her kneecaps” before her husband confronted the intruder in their home. The speaker was in Washington at the time.
Police arrived as the two men were struggling over a hammer. DePape allegedly grabbed the tool and struck Paul Pelosi in the head before police apprehended him. Pelosi underwent surgery and remains hospitalized with a “long recovery” ahead.
Biden directly linked the attack on Pelosi and the Jan. 6 insurrection with former President Donald Trump and his surrogates, who have continued to spread lies about the 2020 election. Hundreds of candidates on ballots across the country this year have embraced that election denial, exploiting political division in hopes of capturing one or both chambers of Congress next week.
“American democracy’s under attack because the defeated former president of the United States refuses to accept the results of the 2020 election,” the president said. “He has abused his power and put loyalty to himself before loyalty to the Constitution. We can’t ignore the impact this is having on our country. It’s damaging, it’s corrosive and it’s destructive.”
Data from the Capitol Police also shows violent threats against lawmakers in Congress have increased tenfold since Trump was elected in 2016.
Biden closed his address Wednesday with a plea for unity and a vision of hope, saying the country had rejected efforts to divide for generations. But he warned that Americans also know, “in our bones,” that democracy remains at risk.
“We can’t pretend it’s just going to solve itself,” Biden said, pointing to the events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack. “I wish I could say the assault on democracy ended that day, but I cannot.”
“As I stand here today, there are candidates running for every level of office in America, for governor, Congress, attorney general, secretary of state, who won’t commit, they will not commit to accepting the results of the elections that they’re running in,” he continued. “This is a path to chaos in America.”