U.S. President Joe Biden attends the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Phoenix Awards Dinner at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 23, 2023.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters
President Joe Biden is set to deliver a speech Thursday in Phoenix, Arizona, on the state of democracy and to honor his late friend, Republican Sen. John McCain.
It is the fourth such speech on democracy Biden has made during his presidency, the first of which was delivered on the first anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
Biden on Thursday is speaking at Arizona State University, home of the McCain Institute, where he will announce that funding from the American Rescue Plan will be used to build a McCain Library in partnership with the institute.
“There is something dangerous happening in America: There is an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs of our democracy — the MAGA movement,” the Democratic president is set to say, according to prepared remarks released by the White House.
The speech will touch on a core tenant of Biden’s reelection pitch: Another term is key to preserving democratic institutions under fire from Donald Trump, the former president and current 2024 Republican nomination front-runner.
At a campaign fundraiser this month in New York, Biden warned that American democracy will be in peril if a Republican wins the White House in 2024, saying GOP candidates are “determined to destroy democracy.”
His speech Thursday comes a day after a group of Republican candidates debated in California, without Trump.
Biden is set to say that McCain was representative of the old guard of Republicans and was willing to put his country over his party. The two men became friends during their tenure in the Senate. The friendship continued after McCain lost the 2008 presidential contest to Barack Obama, whose vice president was Biden.
“Not every Republican — not even the majority of Republicans — adhere to the extremist MAGA ideology,” Biden plans to say.
“I know because I’ve been able to work with Republicans my whole career,” the president will say. “But there is no question that today’s Republican Party is driven and intimidated by MAGA extremists. Their extreme agenda, if carried out, would fundamentally alter the institutions of American Democracy as we know it.”
The speech also comes amid Republican dysfunction on Capitol Hill where a handful of extremist GOP House members are holding up votes on government funding, risking a government shutdown at midnight Saturday.