McCarthy calls on Biden to apologize for ‘semi-fascism’ remark
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called on President Biden to use a prime-time speech to apologize for a remark calling “MAGA” philosophy “semi-fascism.”
“President Biden has chosen to divide, demean and disparage his fellow Americans. Why? Simply because they disagree with his policies. That is not leadership,” McCarthy said in a prebuttal speech to Biden’s planned address from the president’s hometown of Scranton, Pa., Thursday evening.
“When the President speaks tonight at Independence Hall, the first lines out of his mouth [should] be to apologize for slandering tens of millions of Americans as fascists.”
McCarthy’s speech came just ahead of a prime-time speech from Biden on Thursday night in Philadelphia, Pa., which the White House said he will use to warn that “MAGA forces are determined to take this country backward.”
In a fundraiser last week, Biden said that the “extreme MAGA philosophy” in the wing of the Republican party aligned with former President Trump is “like semi-fascism.”
The speech comes as midterm campaign season kicks into high gear, and the Republican minority leader is stepping into the spotlight as he eyes the Speaker’s gavel.
But though McCarthy once predicted that 2022 could be even more of a Republican wave than 2010, when Republicans won 63 seats in the House, the environment is different now. Democrats have seen a spike in Democratic voter enthusiasm and some Republicans have tempered expectations about the midterm elections this year.
While midterm elections have traditionally been a referendum on the party in power in the White House, Democrats have aimed to frame this year’s as a choice between their party and an extreme, pro-Trump wing.
In his speech, McCarthy aimed to reframe the election as a statement about total Democratic control of Washington.
“Democrats control every committee in Congress responsible for our nation’s safety, our prosperity, our education and our government oversight. They are in charge of every federal agency responsible for law enforcement, for drug enforcement, for Homeland Security, for our border security,” he said. “Are you better off? What has two years of one-party Democrat rule in Washington given us?”
And he tried to flip Democrats’ script about extremism.
Listing immigration policy changes made by the Biden administration that he said went around Congress and a planned boost to the IRS workforce, as well as saying the White House “colluded” with big tech, McCarthy said: “That is an assault on democracy.”
He did not avoid the topic of Trump, whose Florida home the FBI raided last month in an operation to recover classified documents and presidential records.
“Joe Biden and a politicized Department of Justice launched a raid on the home of his top political rival, Donald Trump,” McCarthy said, repeating, “That is an assault on democracy.”
In a twist on Biden’s 2020 campaign tagline on a “battle for the soul of the nation,” McCarthy asserted that Biden is the one who has damaged the nation’s “soul.”
“In the past two years, Joe Biden has launched an assault on the soul of America, on its people, on its laws, on its most sacred values. He has launched an assault on our democracy, his policies have severely wounded America’s soul, diminished America’s spirit, and betrayed America’s trust,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy hit on many familiar themes for Republicans, dinging Biden and Democrats for high gas prices, a migration surge on the U.S.-Mexico border, inflation and supply chain issues.
He also took aim at the Biden administration’s “heavy-handed COVID policies,” saying that vaccine mandates put in place by Democrats meant “firing our military heroes and our first responders,” and saying that school closures “erased 20 years of progress in reading and math proficiency.”
Also appearing with McCarthy at the event was Jim Bognet, a Republican challenging incumbent Rep. Matt Cartwright (D) in Pennsylvania’s competitive 8th Congressional District, who echoed McCarthy’s outrage at Biden’s “semi-fascism” remark.
“We’re mad that Joe Biden came here and called us fascist. I want to remind folks, a Bernie Sanders supporter is the one who took a shot at [House Minority Whip] Steve Scalise and other Republican congressmen. And we just had a crazy person go to Virginia and try to murder – murder – [Supreme Court Justice] Brett Kavanaugh, because they didn’t agree with a Supreme Court decision. That is extremist,” Bognet said.