Biden Plans Speech on Democracy After Second Republican Debate

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden said he would deliver an address on democratic values, as the White House seeks to heighten a contrast with Republican presidential candidates headed into his reelection campaign.

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“I’m about to make a major speech,” Biden said Thursday during an address on the economy in Largo, Maryland. “Democracy is at stake, folks. Our democracy’s under attack and we got to fight for it.”

The White House is considering scheduling the speech later this month in Arizona, according to people familiar with the plans. The people who confirmed the plans requested anonymity, saying a site and date had not yet been locked in.

Aides are considering staging the event at the McCain Institute — dedicated to the late Arizona Republican John McCain who served alongside Biden for decades in the Senate — on the day following the next GOP presidential primary debate, the New York Times reported.

Biden planned to deliver remarks on democracy late last month at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, a historic Revolutionary War site. But the plans were scuttled due to the landfall of Hurricane Idalia. The president is expected to travel to the West Coast for fundraisers in California during the last week of September, which would provide an opportunity to visit Arizona.

Republicans are planning to hold their second presidential debate Sept. 27 in Simi Valley, California.

The timing provides Biden an opportunity to paint the GOP as extreme before a possible government shutdown. House Republicans have been gripped by internal divisions over how aggressively to pursue spending cuts in recent days, throwing into doubt chances for passage of a stopgap funding measure.

But Biden has long seen a political advantage in focusing on democratic norms, believing the issue provides a favorable contrast with former President Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner, and allows Democrats to highlight issues like voting rights and abortion access that helped them in the 2022 midterm races.

The White House’s bid to tout the president’s economic record of “Bidenomics” has also struggled to take hold. Worries linger that the administration won’t preside over a soft landing for the US economy. Soaring prices at the pump are an added strain even as the labor market remains quite hot and inflation has shown broader easing.

The choice of Arizona is likely tempting because it allows Biden to paint himself as both bipartisan and focused on preserving democratic ideals in a battleground state.

The president shared a decades-long friendship with McCain, the former GOP presidential nominee who famously sparred with Trump, heralding him as a leader during a visit this week to Vietnam. Biden won Arizona in 2020 by less than half a percentage-point over Trump, igniting a bitter fight over ballot-counting.

(Updates with Biden remarks)

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