Washington: “Make America Great Again” (Maga) agenda of Donald Trump’s supporters is a threat to democracy, US President Joe Biden has said.
“Maga forces are determined to take this country backwards,” he said in a primetime speech in Pennsylvania.
Top Republican Kevin McCarthy has hit back saying Biden’s policies have “severely wounded America’s soul”.
The duelling speeches come two months before mid-term elections, which will decide the power balance in Washington.
Delivering his speech late Thursday from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the US Declaration of Independence was signed, the Democrat president picked up his 2020 campaign theme of restoring the “soul of America”, the BBC reported.
He said he was not condemning all 74 million Americans who voted for Trump two years back. “Not every Republican, not even a majority of Republicans, are Maga Republicans,” he said.
“But there’s no question,” Biden continued, “that the Republican party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the Maga Republicans, and that is a threat to this country.”
The president said Trump supporters thought of the mob who stormed the US Capitol last year as patriots rather than insurrectionists.
“For a long time,” he continued, “we told ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed. But it’s not. We have to defend it. Protect it. Stand up for it. Each and every one of us.”
Throughout the speech someone was heard heckling and sounding a bullhorn, according to the BBC.
Biden was disrupted twice, saying the second time: “They’re entitled to be outrageous. This is a democracy.”
The president, who came into office pledging to unite the country, has recently sharpened his rhetoric against Trump supporters. Last week Biden equated what he called “extreme” Republicans with “semi-fascism”.
While Republicans may have responded with: “Why? Simply because they disagree with his policies. That is not leadership.”
A self-proclaimed life-long Republican told BBC he would never vote for Mr Trump or any of the candidates he has endorsed.