Biden’s campaign will kick off with the starkest themes in recent memory

Aside from an early ad buy and some behind-the-scenes quips, President Joe Biden kept his reelection powder dry in 2023. All that changes this month, beginning with Biden’s speech this Saturday at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, marking the anniversary of the Trump-inspired Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Team Biden is promising a reelection bid infused with existential themes of the fight for democracy, freedom, and combating violent extremism—far more ominous than any reality-based incumbent president in recent memory.

On a campaign call with reporters covered by NPR, Biden’s campaign chiefs hammered the dire warnings that the president and Vice President Kamala Harris will carry forward to voters this month as they kick off this year’s campaign.

“The choice for the American people in November 2024 will be about protecting our democracy and every American’s fundamental freedoms,” said Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez.

Biden centered his 2020 campaign launch around the extremist threats to the republic, using footage of the 2017 neo-Nazi tiki torch marchers in Charlottesville, Virginia, whom Trump later dubbed “very fine people.”

But as Biden deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks noted on the call, the political environment is even worse four years later.

“The threat that Donald Trump posed in 2020 to American democracy has grown even more dangerous than it was when President Biden ran last time,” Fulks said.

Biden communications director Michael Tyler added, “The leading candidate of a major party in the United States is running for president so that he can systematically dismantle and destroy our democracy.”

After Biden’s inaugural 2024 campaign speech on Jan. 6, he will travel to Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday to address congregants at Mother Emanuel AME Church, where a white supremacist opened fire on about two dozen Black worshippers in 2015, killing nine of them. In that speech, Biden reportedly plans to highlight the violent extremism that undergirded the overtly antisemitic Charlottesville march as well as the Mother Emanuel massacre.

Later in the month, Vice Price Kamala Harris will launch a multistate tour dedicated to protecting reproductive freedom, beginning with a speech in Wisconsin on Jan. 22, the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It’s an unmistakable effort to remind voters of what’s on the line this November in a key swing state where last year, pro-democracy and reproductive rights advocates successfully secured a liberal majority on the state’s high court with a stunning 11-point victory for liberal Judge Janet Protasiewicz.

Team Biden’s tenor is a far cry from the 2012 reelection bid waged by President Barack Obama, who turned the presidential contest into a choice between who would fight harder for average Americans: him or Republican nominee Mitt Romney, the former CEO of a private equity firm.

Biden previewed the shift into high gear last month when he called it “self-evident” that Trump, his rival, is an insurrectionist.

“I think it’s self-evident. You saw it all,” Biden said of the Jan. 6 attack, responding to a reporter’s question. “He certainly supported an insurrection. There’s no question about it. None. Zero.”

Gone are the days when we had the luxury of arguing over tax rates and the size of government.

This year, Team Biden is laying it all on the line right out of the gate: You either cast a vote in November for representative democracy and the freedoms protected therein, or you vote for an autocratic regime where campaigns, if they even exist, will be little more than window dressing for the world.

In other words, we will be living in a Putinesque regime overseen by Donald Trump.

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