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VOL. 46 | NO. 43 | Friday, October 28, 2022

Biden to speak on threats to democracy ahead of midterms

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WASHINGTON (AP) — After weeks of reassuring talk about America's economy and inflation, President Joe Biden is turning to a darker, more urgent message, warning in the final days of midterm election voting that democracy itself is under threat.

The president, who has been focused on drawing an economic contrast between Democrats and the GOP, is aiming to shine a spotlight on "ultra MAGA" Republicans — a reference to former President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan — and mounting concerns over political violence.

Biden, who says that "democracy is on the ballot" on Nov. 8, is speaking Wednesday evening from Washington's Union Station, blocks from the U.S. Capitol, the White House said.

"It's from Capitol Hill, because that is where there was an attempt to subvert our democracy," White House senior adviser Anita Dunn told Axios, referencing to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

The speech comes days after a man seeking to kidnap House Speaker Nancy Pelosi severely injured her husband, Paul Pelosi, in their San Francisco home and as physical threats have rattled members of Congress and election workers.

"The threat of political violence which most Americans find abhorrent, the idea that you would use violence to further your political means, it's something that unites almost all Americans and that we can all be united against, and obviously, we've seen horrible things happen quite recently," Dunn said.

Previewing Biden's remarks, she said the Democratic president "will be very clear tonight that he is speaking to people who don't agree with him on any issues, who don't agree on his agenda, but who really can unite behind this idea of this fundamental value of democracy."

"What we are seeing is an alarming number of Republican officials suggest they will not accept the results of this election," said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

"This is not a regular moment in time," she added. "He's going to call it all out."

Biden last delivered a prime-time speech on what he called the "continued battle for the soul of the nation" on Sept. 1 outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, in which he condemned the "MAGA forces" of Donald Trump and his adherents as a threat to America's system of government.

"They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country," Biden said then.

The new remarks come as hundreds of candidates who have falsely denied the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election are on ballots across the country, with many poised to be elected to critical roles overseeing elections.

In contrast to the September remarks, which drew criticism from some corners for being paid for by taxpayers, Biden's Wednesday night speech is being hosted by the Democratic National Committee.

"The president will address the threat of election deniers and those who seek to undermine faith in voting and democracy; and the stakes for our democracy in next week's election," the DNC said.

Many Americans remain pessimistic about the state of U.S. democracy. An October poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that just 9% of adults think democracy is working "extremely" or "very well," while 52% say it's not working well.

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AP writer Seung Min Kim contributed.

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Follow the AP's coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections. And learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections.

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