President Joe Biden will kick off his reelection campaign on Jan. 6 by emphasizing the importance of defending democracy. Biden will contrast his position with that of former President Donald Trump, who has promised to issue pardons for people convicted in the 2021 attack by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol.
“Our message is clear, and it is simple: We are running a campaign like the fate of our democracy depends on it. Because it does,” Biden-Harris campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said on a call with reporters, as reported by NBC News.
Chavez Rodriguez said, “The threat Donald Trump posed in 2020 to American democracy has only grown more dire in the years since.”
Biden is scheduled to speak about his campaign at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, where George Washington rallied his troops during the Revolutionary War in 1777-1778. Biden’s appearance there falls on the third anniversary of the attack on the Capitol.
The Biden campaign released an ad on Jan. 4 with a similar message.
“I’ve made the preservation of American democracy the central issue of my presidency,” Biden says in the ad as images of people voting are juxtaposed with those of right-wing protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, and of the rioting at the Capitol.
Biden describes Trump’s violent supporters as belonging to “an extremist movement who does not share the basic beliefs of our democracy.”
On the day of the attack, Trump headlined a rally in Washington, D.C., at which he falsely claimed that the election had been stolen from him after Biden defeated him in the popular vote and in the Electoral College.
“We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said. He later told supporters, “So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
The attack on the Capitol began about an hour later as Trump supporters broke through police barricades around the building. At least seven people died in connection with the rioting, and over 1,240 people have been arrested.
Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on Jan. 13, 2021, on a charge of incitement of insurrection, becoming the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. Trump had previously been impeached in December 2019 on charges of using his office to try to obtain information from the government of Ukraine about his political opponents and of obstructing the House’s investigation into those actions. In both impeachment trials, the Republican-led Senate voted to acquit him.
Since then, Trump has frequently said that if he were reelected he would “be looking very, very seriously at full pardons” for those convicted in the rioting and has issued calls for those currently serving in prison to be freed.
All of the Republican members of Michigan’s congressional delegation announced their endorsement of Trump in July 2023. The members are Reps. Jack Bergman, Lisa McClain, John Moolenaar, Bill Huizenga, John James, and Tim Walberg.
“Under the Trump presidency, America was prosperous, the economy was strong, the world was a safer place, and Michiganders were better off. President Trump has proven he has the ability to deliver results on Day One and also the ability to win in key battleground states like Michigan, being the only Republican to win a Presidential race here since 1988,” their statement read.
While Trump narrowly defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Michigan in 2016 by a margin of 47.50% to 47.27%, he lost to Biden in the state in 2020, earning 47.84% of the vote to Biden’s 50.62%.
The Michigan endorsements were made after Trump’s impeachments and after he was criminally indicted in New York on charges of making hush money payments and by a federal grand jury on charges of taking classified documents from the White House.
Following the endorsements, Trump was charged in August 2023 in a federal case on charges of attempting to overturn the 2020 election results and in Fulton County, Georgia, that same month on charges of election fraud and racketeering.
The endorsement by the Michigan representatives has not been rescinded in light of the criminal charges that Trump is facing.