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Biden to give prime-time speech about 'soul of the nation' as voters prepare to cast midterm ballots

The president is expected to speak Thursday night outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
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President Joe Biden plans to deliver a prime-time speech this week about how America’s “rights and freedoms are still under attack,” returning to the core message of his 2020 campaign as Americans are getting ready to vote in the November midterm elections.

A White House official said Thursday's address at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia would focus on “the continued battle for the soul of the nation” and show how the president sees the central argument of his 2020 candidacy remains as salient as ever with the midterm elections coming into clearer focus.

The president will lay out how America’s standing in the world and its democracy are at stake, the official said. Biden will highlight what he sees as progress over the past two years to protect our democracy, but note that rights and freedoms remain at risk.

“He will make clear who is fighting for those rights, fighting for those freedoms, and fighting for our democracy,” the official said.

Biden will deliver the speech outside Independence Hall, another echo of his 2020 candidacy, which began with a rally in Philadelphia. In that campaign, Biden repeatedly drew upon the message of not just the nation’s Founding Fathers but other great leaders in highlighting how he viewed then-President Donald Trump as someone who would risk changing the character of the nation if given another term in office. He later drew on Abraham Lincoln with a major speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Franklin Roosevelt in Warm Springs, Georgia, in the closing weeks of the 2020 campaign.

Thursday's speech comes as Biden is ramping up his travel schedule in the closing months of the midterm elections. The event in Philadelphia will be his third in the battleground state in the span of one week. Biden on Tuesday intends to discuss his plan for public safety and will contrast that with what he will say is an “extreme MAGA agenda” from congressional Republicans that “is a threat to the rule of law.”

While it’s not yet clear how much Biden will invoke his predecessor this week, he and his advisers have made clear that they think the former president’s grip on the GOP has boosted Democrats’ chances of protecting congressional majorities this fall.

Last week, in remarks at a Democratic National Committee rally in Maryland, Biden said that “MAGA Republicans don’t just threaten our personal rights and economic security, they’re a threat to our very democracy.”

“They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace — political violence. They don’t believe in democracy,” he said. “This is why, in this moment, those of you who love this country — Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans — we must be stronger, more determined, and more committed to saving America than the MAGA Republicans are to destroying America.”

On Monday, Republicans dismissed the president's upcoming speech.

“Biden has pitted neighbors against each other, labeled half of Americans as fascist, and tarnished any idea of his promise of ‘unity.’ Families are left with a recession, high gas prices, and a nation on the wrong track,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Emma Vaughn said in an email statement.