Politics

Trump and GOP candidates’ final sprint to Iowa caucuses

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President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, on January 8, 2024. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Joe Biden cast the 2024 election as a battle for truth as he compared his predecessor to defeated confederate soldiers in remarks at the historic site of a deadly 2015 shooting fueled by White supremacy.

“The truth is under assault in America. As a consequence, so is our freedom, our democracy, our very country,” Biden said in a speech in Charleston, South Carolina, Monday.

Biden, who has kicked off the election year starkly framing the choice as critical to the future of democracy, used his remarks to explicitly compare former President Donald Trump and his most ardent supporters to “defeated confederates” after the Civil War.

“After the Civil War, the defeated confederates couldn’t accept the verdict of the war, they lost. So they say they embraced what is known as the lost cause, the self-serving lie that the civil war was not about slavery but about states’ rights. They call that the noble cause. That was a lie,” he said.

“Now, we’re living in an era of a second lost cause. Once again, there are some in this country trying to turn a loss into a lie. A lie which if allowed to live will once again bring terrible damage to this country. This time the lie is about the 2020 election,” he continued.

In contrast, Biden highlighted some of his key accomplishments: record low Black unemployment, record high Black health insurance signups, funding for HBCUs, efforts to replace lead pipes, and the appointment of diverse judicial candidates. 

Biden also detailed the events of January 6, 2021, describing a “violent mob” that was “whipped up by lies from a defeated former president.” He criticized Trump’s inaction.

“For hours, the defeated former president sat in the private dining room off of the Oval Office and did nothing. Absolutely nothing. His actions were among the worst derelictions of duty by any president in American history,” Biden said, echoing similar comments he made during a speech Friday in Pennsylvania.

Biden said “we must reject political violence in America. Always, not sometimes, always. It is never appropriate.”

He warned broadly that Trump’s movement – “the same movement” of January 6 – “Isn’t just trying to rewrite history on January 6th, they were trying to determine to erase history and your future,” he said, pointing to efforts to ban books, deny the right to vote, and “destroying diversity, equality and inclusion all across America. Harboring hate and replacing hope with anger and resentment.”

“It’s a dangerous view of America. A narrow view of America. A zero-sum view of America that says if you win I lose, if you succeed it must be I failed. If you get ahead I fall behind. May be worst of all, if I hold you down, I lift myself up,” he warned.

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