Joe Biden Has Second Thoughts About His Controversial MAGA Comments

Certain critics of President Joe Biden enjoy mocking him when he appears to fumble for words or forgets a name. But on September 1, the president delivered a speech with a clear message that infuriated his detractors. Speaking before a crowd gathered at Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park, he addressed "the continued battle for the soul of our nation." Biden took direct aim at what he considers the primary opponent in that battle: "Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic."

While the MAGA faction doesn't represent all Republicans, Biden clarified, the ones who do support the former president are promoting a dangerous ideology. In addition to pushing through legal decisions such as the overturning of Roe v. Wade, he added that MAGA Republicans "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." The speech specified the death threats against the FBI agents who conducted the search of Mar-a-Lago and the glorification of the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol building.

The address was blasted by the right as being divisive and hateful. Donald Trump himself wrote on Truth Social (via New York Post) that the president "must be insane, or suffering from late-stage dementia."

Perhaps taking the "divisive" criticism to heart, Biden tried to soften his message the next day.

President Biden clarified his harsh remarks

President Biden was pressed to clarify his controversial words on September 2, when a reporter asked him whether he thought Donald Trump's supporters posed a real threat to America. Per the New York Post, the president explained that he hadn't meant the MAGA faction was a physical threat, but added, "I do think anyone who calls for the use of violence, fails to condemn violence when it is used, refuses to acknowledge when an election has been won, insists upon changing the way in which they can count votes, that is a threat to democracy."

Biden went on to acknowledge that the people who voted for Trump were voting for his "philosophy," not for the events that occurred after the election. Still, he repeated his belief that the "failure to recognize and condemn" political violence and election-result deniers is "inappropriate." This time, he didn't specifically mention Trump's refusal on January 6 to admit he lost the election, but the implication was there.

The explanation seems unlikely to change anyone's opinion. Pete Hegseth of Fox News scoffed, "We don't think Joe Biden had a change of heart. What Joe Biden said last night is exactly what the Democratic Party thinks of us ...They have turned the patriotic opposition into treasonous outlaws even if they try to deny it the next day because we stand for freedom, and that's the problem."