Biden claims Trump 'embraces political violence,' plays down his poor polling

"This weekend, Trump was embracing his old pal Putin," Biden said.

December 20, 2023, 11:09 AM

President Joe Biden on Tuesday night claimed former President Donald Trump "embraces political violence" and downplayed early polling showing him losing to Trump in a hypothetical rematch in 2024.

"He's threatened to use the U.S. military on the streets of America," Biden said at a campaign fundraiser in Bethesda, Maryland, according to press pool reports.

"Once again, he embraces political violence instead of rejecting it. We can't let this happen," Biden told donors.

The president, already preparing to potentially face Trump in next year's general election, has focused on an argument that Trump is a threat to the country's democracy because of how he has questioned election integrity and vowed to go after his political opponents.

Trump has countered that it is Biden who is anti-democratic because of the various criminal cases against Trump, related to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, the alleged misuse of government secrets and money paid to an adult film actress before the 2016 election.

Prosecutors have pushed back on the claim they are politically motivated. Trump denies all wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

At the campaign event on Tuesday, the president also brushed off concerns that Trump would beat him in a general election after a New York Times/Siena College poll published that day found Trump and Biden in a close race.

Other surveys have found similar results.

Biden, instead, highlighted polls showing him narrowly winning before saying it's too early to tell.

"Doesn't mean a lot right now, in my opinion," he said of the polling.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks during a meeting of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council the White House in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 13, 2023.
Leah Millis/Reuters, FILE

Raising Trump's controversial comments from a New Hampshire rally on Saturday, Biden warned the former president would abuse the power of the presidency in a second term and noted that Trump continues to praise authoritarian leaders.

"Trump was embracing his old pal [Vladimir] Putin. Trump even quoted him this weekend. It's no surprise -- after all, there's a lot of agreement between Moscow and Mar-a-Lago," Biden said.

"The language he uses reminds us of the language coming out of Germany in the '30s," Biden continued. "He has called those who oppose him 'vermin' and again this weekend, he talked about the 'blood' of our country being 'poisoned.' Even conservative Republicans have spoken out."

In Iowa on Tuesday, at his own campaign event, Trump again used some of the same language Biden referred to.

"They're ruining our country," Trump said about migrants crossing the border. "And it's true they're destroying the blood of our country. That's what they're doing."

Reacting to recent criticism that his words over unauthorized immigrants echo those used by Adolft Hitler in the lead-up to World War II, Trump told his crowd he had not read Hitler's "Mein Kampf."

"They don't like it when I said that -- and I never read 'Mein Kampf.' They said, 'Oh, Hitler said that' -- in a much different way. No, they're coming from all over the world. People all over the world," Trump said Tuesday night.

Biden's running mate, Vice President Kamala Harris, condemned Trump's comments on immigrants as she appeared on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" later on Tuesday night.

O'Donnell asked about Trump's words in the context of Harris' own background as the daughter of immigrants.

"I was raised knowing that there will be some people who will use their voice in a way that is meant to dehumanize, meant to suggest that the vast majority of us don't have anything in common, when, in fact, the vast majority of us have more in common than what separates us," Harris said.

At his Tuesday campaign event, Biden brought up Trump recently telling Fox News' Sean Hannity that he wouldn't be a dictator "except for day one," so that he could focus on the border and on drilling, when Hannity asked if he would use the presidency for retribution.

As he has at similar fundraisers, Biden called Trump "a defeated former president" who "can't get tired of losing," as a rematch between the two appears increasingly likely.

"Let me be clear," Biden continued. "I think Donald Trump poses many threats to the country. From the right to choose, to civil rights, to voting rights, to the American standing in the world".

"The greatest threat Trump poses is the threat to our democracy," he added. "Because if we lose, we lose everything."

ABC News' Justin Gomez and Lalee Ibssa contributed to this report.