US President Joe Biden on Thursday used the backdrop of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial to charge Republicans with following Donald Trump into a “deep black hole” of white supremacy and voter suppression.
The searing speech at a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the memorial to the slain African-American civil rights hero on Washington’s National Mall was unusual for Biden’s direct attacks on Trump.
Biden said Republican state representatives, ranging from governors to officials in charge of overseeing elections, have launched “an unrelenting assault” on access to free elections ahead of next year’s midterm legislative poll and the 2024 presidential vote.
What Biden called an “un-American” campaign is defended by Republicans as an attempt to tighten security around elections.
But the Republican push comes as Trump continues to press his unprecedented bid to discredit Biden’s win in the 2020 election, which he claims, with no evidence, that he won.
“They’re following my predecessor, the last president, in a deep, deep black hole,” Biden said, citing “a sinister combination of voter suppression and election subversion.”
Democrat Biden has often called out Trump’s incendiary lies about the election — which polls show that many ordinary Republicans believe are true. However, Biden more rarely refers to Trump directly, preferring to ignore the Republicans.
In his speech, Biden said the white supremacy that King fought before being assassinated in 1968 had never fully gone away.
“It only hides,” he said.
Biden described the January 6 assault by a pro-Trump mob on the US Capitol building while lawmakers were inside certifying the 2020 election results as another outbreak of the same problem.
“The violent, deadly insurrection on the Capitol nine months ago was about white supremacy in my view,” he said.
“The bad news: we had a president who appealed to the prejudice. The good news is that it ripped the Band-Aid off, made it absolutely clear what’s at stake,” Biden added.
He was speaking the day after Republicans in the Senate blocked a debate on Democratic legislation to reform what Biden’s party says is a morass of unfair election laws, including campaign finance, voting rules and redistricting.