President Joe Biden on Friday responded to criticism of his recent verbal attacks against "MAGA Republicans" and his controversial prime-time speech Thursday, denying that he considers Trump supporters to be a "threat" to the country.
At Independence Hall in Philadelphia Thursday evening, against a backdrop of harsh red lighting and Marine guards, Biden strongly condemned his predecessor Donald Trump and his "MAGA Republicans" allies, who, the president said, "represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic." The president's speech was denounced by Republicans who accused Biden of using threatening, divisive language to demonize the 70 million Americans who supported Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
The speech came days after Biden reportedly told attendees at a Democratic Party fundraiser that the "extreme MAGA philosophy" of the Republican Party is "like semi-fascism."
Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy confronted Biden about his remarks after a White House event announcing the winners of a regional economic development competition.
"Mr. President, do you consider all Trump supporters to be a threat to the country?" Doocy asked.
"I don't consider any Trump supporter to be a threat to the country," Biden replied. "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 emphasized the word "democracy."
"Everything we stand for rests on the platform of democracy. When people voted for Donald Trump and support him now, they weren't voting for attacking the Capitol. They weren't voting for overruling an election. They were voting for a philosophy he put forward," the president added.
"I am not talking about anything other than, it is inappropriate … the failure to recognize and condemn violence when it is used for political purposes. Failure to condemn the manipulation [of] election outcomes," he continued. "Failure to acknowledge when elections were won or lost."
But in his speech Thursday night, Biden said Republicans have assaulted the principles of "equality and democracy" and represent a threat to the country.
"As I stand here tonight, equality and democracy are under assault. We do ourselves no favor to pretend otherwise," he said. "There’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans. And that is a threat to this country."
The president did acknowledge that "not every Republican, not even a majority Republicans are MAGA Republicans."
"Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology," Biden said. "I know because I've been able to work with these mainstream Republicans."
Even so, Republicans demanded that Biden apologize for the tone of his speech.
"Instead of trying to bring our country together to solve the MANY problems he has created, President Biden has chosen to divide, demean, and disparage his fellow Americans—simply because they disagree with his policies," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted Thursday. "Mr. President: you owe millions of Americans an apology."