Biden Warns of Trump’s Threat to Democracy at Washington Dinner

(Bloomberg) -- US President Joe Biden poked fun at Donald Trump during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday night, while seeking to portray his Republican rival as a threat to democracy six months before their rematch.

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Biden’s remarks touched on many of the central themes of his campaign, including that America’s democratic institutions remain fragile and still under threat from Trump and his supporters.

Trump “promised a bloodbath when he loses again. We have to take this seriously,” the president said. “Eight years ago you could have written it off as just Trump talk but no longer, not after Jan. 6.”

The annual correspondents dinner brings together more than 2,600 lawmakers, journalists and other public figures for one of the capital’s biggest events of the year. Comedian Colin Jost of “Saturday Night Live” headlined the dinner, held at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Administration officials from Vice President Kamala Harris to Secretary of State Antony Blinken were in attendance, as well as celebrities such as Jost’s wife Scarlett Johansson, Jon Hamm and Da’Vine Joy Randolph, the winner of this year’s Academy Award for Supporting Actress.

Biden’s remarks come as his general-election rematch against Trump heats up. The president has been visiting key swing states in recent weeks in a bid to reverse polls that show him trailing the presumptive Republican nominee.

That travel blitz has come with his rival largely stuck in Manhattan for a criminal trial involving hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels — the first of four indictments the former president is facing.

“Donald’s had a few tough days lately. You might call it stormy weather,” Biden said at the dinner, often an opportunity for presidents to showcase their lighter side, poking fun at their rivals and themselves.

Biden, 81, the oldest US president in history, regularly jokes about his age in effort to defuse anxiety among voters about his fitness to serve a second term in office.

“The 2024 election is in full swing and yes, age is an issue,” Biden said Saturday. “I’m a grown man running against a six year old.”

The evening’s festivities were clouded by protests over the Israel-Hamas war, with large crowds rallying against the conflict outside the event as Biden and other guests arrived. Posts on social media showed a Palestinian flag unfurled from the Hilton hotel, where the dinner is being held.

While the president didn’t directly address the conflict or the protests at the event and at college campuses across the country, he paid tribute to reporters who have been killed in the line of duty in Ukraine, the Middle East and elsewhere.

He also repeated his call for the release of journalists imprisoned all over the world, including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is currently being held in Russia.

“Journalism is clearly not a crime — not here, not there, not anywhere in the world,” Biden said. “I give you my word as a Biden, we’re not going to give up until we get them home. All of them home.”

--With assistance from Jason Scott.

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