On Sunday, ABC News reporter Martha Raddatz confronted White House adviser Keisha Lance Bottoms on whether President Joe Biden has “given up” on 70 million Republican voters.
Raddatz’s question comes as Biden on Thursday decried “MAGA Republicans” during a speech at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. In the speech, Biden stated: “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.”
Biden, who ran as a unifier, qualified that “not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology. I know because I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans.
“But,” the president added, “there’s no question 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. These are hard things.”
Speaking on ABC News “This Week,” Bottoms, who is the White House’s Office of Public Engagement director, defended Biden.
During the interview, Raddatz pressed Bottoms, questioning if the president’s speech was overly divisive. Bottoms maintained that the president was simply “calling out” to Americans regardless of who they voted for.
during interview with Keisha Lance Bottoms, Martha Raddatz suggests Biden engaged in hate speech during his primetime address pic.twitter.com/0BCVKzswmO— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 4, 2022
“What I see in this speech — I see words of encouragement. I see optimism. I see a commander in chief who is calling out to all of us, no matter our political affiliation,” Bottoms stated.
“All of us?” Raddatz asked. “He wasn’t calling out to the MAGA supporters, certainly. He mentioned them more than a dozen times as a threat to democracy. Has the president essentially given up on those MAGA Republicans — some 70 million people?”
Bottoms replied, “What the president has done is said that he will continue to work with mainstream Republicans, that he will work with Democrats, that he will work with independents to get things done in our country.”
The White House adviser then extrapolated the thousands of rioters who showed up at the Capitol on Jan. 6 to the roughly 74 million voters of Trump in 2020. “But this MAGA Republican agenda,” Bottoms continued, “this hate-fueled agenda that we saw incite violence on our nation’s Capitol has no place in a democracy. And if we are not intentional about calling it out, which is what the president did, then our country — everything that our country is built upon is in danger.”
On Friday, Biden defended his speech, according to Newsweek, stating that he wasn’t referring to “any Trump voter” as a threat to American democracy — only those who advocate violence.
“I don’t consider any Trump supporter to be a threat to the country,” the president stated. “I do think anyone who calls for the use of violence, fails to condemn violence when it’s used, refuses to acknowledge an election has been won, insists upon changing the way in which we rule and count votes, that is a threat to democracy.”
But after Biden’s speech was said and done, both liberals and conservatives came out critical of it.
“Seventy-four million people voted for Trump in 2020,” Matt Taibbi wrote. “It’s beyond delusional to think they are all violent extremists. A smart politician would recognize the overwhelming majority are just people who pay taxes, work crap jobs, raise kids, obey the law and give at most a tiny share of attention to politics.”
On Friday, Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, told Newsmax that Biden showed in his speech he “hates half of America.”