Trump attacks Biden for 'divisive' speech

·2-min read

Former US president Donald Trump has forcefully hit back at Joe Biden, saying the Democrat's recent address in Philadelphia was "the most vicious, hateful, and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president, vilifying 75 million citizens".

"He's an enemy of the state," Trump told a roaring crowd of thousands on Saturday night. And he said Philadelphia was the right place for the speech, "because the city is being devastated under Democrat rule".

While the speech was billed as a rally to help Pennsylvania's top Republican candidates, Mehmet Oz, for Senate, and state Senator Doug Mastriano, for governor, Trump spent most of his speech airing his old personal grievances, and some new ones.

He briefly mentioned Oz and Mastriano, before immediately pivoting to his anger at Biden, and the recent FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home as they tried to recover classified documents.

He called it an "evil and demented persecution of you and me".

It was Trump's first public response to Biden's blistering condemnation on Thursday, when Biden cast Trump and "MAGA Republicans" as a threat to democracy, pointing to Trump's attempts to overthrow the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021, riot he inspired.

After a presidency marked by his own slash-and-burn style, personally insulting Democrats for their looks, calling them "sick" and "evil", pressuring law enforcement to prosecute his rivals and go easy on his friends, Trump on Saturday pointed those same accusations at Democrats, casting them as vicious.

"The danger to democracy comes from the radical left, not from the right," he said, as the crowd roared in approval. Trump then continued to lie about the 2020 election, calling it rigged despite that claim being refuted by law enforcement, and his own aides.

The event was Trump's first major general election event this year, and his first formal public appearance since the FBI search, conducted with a warrant approved by a judge.

While Trump nodded to the campaign arguments that Republicans hope will power their campaigns this fall - calling the election "a referendum on skyrocketing inflation, rampaging crime," and "the corruption and extremism of Joe Biden and the radical Democrat Party" - he was mostly focused on his own complaints.

Over the first hour of his talk he mostly railed against his two impeachments, the Russia investigation, the 2020 election outcome, and Hillary Clinton, the Democrat he defeated six years ago.

He complained about electric cars and wind turbines, barely mentioning Oz or Mastriano through his first 80 minutes of speaking.

Biden, days earlier, had sharply excoriated Trump and his allies as a danger to American values.

"Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the foundations of our very republic," Biden said at Independence Hall.

Pennsylvania's races for Senate and governor are two of the country's marquee contests, and Trump could get credit for GOP wins - or blame if his picks cost the party winnable races.