Joe Biden is once again making it his mission in life to block Donald Trump. Preventing a second term for the Republican, whom he considers a danger to democracy, was already the key motivation for entering the race for the White House four years ago. Biden beat Trump, but everything points to the battle being repeated and so will the motivation. "We have to get it, not for me. If Trump didn't run, I'm not sure if I would. But we can't let him win," he said Tuesday at a fundraiser in Weston, Massachusetts, at the home of Alan Solomont, a Democratic donor who was ambassador to Spain and president of the U.S.-Spain Chamber of Commerce.
On the campaign trail for the 2020 presidential election, Biden called himself "a transitional candidate." Biden has just turned 81 and would end a hypothetical second term at 86. Because of his age, his choice for the vice presidency was given greater importance than usual, which after a long wait fell to Kamala Harris. There was speculation that whoever held that office would run for president in 2024, once Trump had disappeared from the political scene and political polarization had attenuated.
The former president, however, has not only settled into the hoax that the election was stolen from him, but has convinced the vast majority of Republican voters of it. He is the front-runner in the Republican primaries and also leads the polls for the presidential election. Meanwhile, the figure of Kamala Harris has not gelled and Biden believes that the one who has the best chance of defeating Trump is himself again. "I may not be the only one, but I know him well. And I know the danger it poses to our democracy. And we've been through this before," he said in April at a White House press briefing.
When Democrats scored better-than-expected in the November 2022 election, Biden had not yet confirmed that he would run for reelection. He said he expected to make the decision in early 2023 and already then stressed the importance he attached to Trump "not becoming the next president again."
From the beginning of the re-election campaign, he has reiterated the message, but never until Tuesday had he expressly suggested that he might not run for a second term if it weren't for Trump. "We will always defend, protect and fight for democracy," he said on Tuesday. "That's why I'm running."
"Trump doesn't even hide the ball anymore," Biden also said at another rally, also in the Boston area. "He's telling us what he's going to do. He doesn't mince words," he added, referring to his president as the "defeated former president." Trump has openly vowed to go after his political rivals if he returns to the White House, in retaliation for his own indictments. "Yes. If they do this, and they already have, but if they go ahead with this, yes, it could certainly happen the other way around," he said in an interview with Univision in November. "What they've done is let the genie out of the bottle," he continued. "They've done something that allows for the next game... if I happen to be president and I see someone who is doing well and is beating me, I say, 'Go and accuse him,'" he added.
The former president has embraced increasingly violent and authoritarian rhetoric. He has referred to his political rivals as "vermin" that must be "eradicated" and also claims that undocumented immigrants are "poisoning the blood of the country" – expressions with echoes of Nazi Germany or fascist Italy, as historians have revealed. Trump has also attacked judges and prosecutors, suggested that his former chief of staff Mark Miley should be executed and has been in favor of shooting shoplifters.
Trump Strikes Back
Knowing that attacks on the danger he poses to democracy hurt him, Trump tried last weekend to turn the tables: "Biden is not the defender of American democracy. Biden is the destroyer of democracy," he said at an event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "He has instrumentalized the government against his political opponents as a Third World political tyrant," he added.
"American democracy, I give you my word as Biden, is at stake," the president said at one of the campaign's three campaign fundraisers in the Boston area on Tuesday. "He didn't even show up for my inauguration. I can't say I was disappointed, but he didn't even show up," he said at all three events, provoking laughter from the audience. "I guess he won't show up at my next inauguration either," he added to applause from the audience.
Biden is not alone in his warnings about the risk posed by Trump. Former Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney has just published her book Oath and Honor, with the same message. "We will vote to preserve our republic," he writes. "As a nation, we can endure harmful policies for a four-year term. But we can't survive a president willing to do away with our Constitution," he adds, warning of the risk of the United States sliding into a dictatorial regime for the first time in its history.
On Friday, Biden will have another fundraiser at the home of another former ambassador to Spain. It will be in Los Angeles, at the home of James Costos and his partner, Michael Smith, a famous interior designer who decorated the White House for President Barack Obama. He hopes to raise millions of dollars in the first act with Hollywood personalities after the writers' and actors' strikes. Musician Lenny Kravitz is scheduled to perform. Film director Steven Spielberg and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, are among the event's hosts; as well as recording industry mogul David Geffen; director and actor Rob Reiner; Scandal director Shonda Rhimes and "This is Spinal Tap" director Rob Reiner, according to an invitation obtained by the AP. Barbra Streisand will also attend, as will former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
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