U.S. President Joe Biden told campaign donors Tuesday that he wasn’t sure he’d be running for reelection if Donald Trump wasn’t also in the race, warning that democracy is “more at risk in 2024” and that the former president and his allies are out to “destroy” democratic institutions.
The president was using a trio of fundraisers to caution against what might happen should his predecessor again claim control of the White House, noting that Mr. Trump has described himself as his supporters’ “retribution” and has vowed to root out “vermin” in the country.
“We’ve got to get it done, not because of me. … If Trump wasn’t running I’m not sure I’d be running. We cannot let him win,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Biden’s forceful rhetoric came as Mr. Trump, the current GOP front-runner, who allegedly tried to overturn the 2020 election he lost and is facing criminal charges connected to those efforts, attempted over the weekend to turn the tables by calling Mr. Biden the “destroyer of American democracy.”
Mr, Biden, who said he is not alone in sounding the alarm over Mr. Trump, noted that Mr. Trump is the “only losing candidate” in U.S. history to not accept the results. Mr. Biden also said that on January 6, 2021, as Mr. Trump supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the election results, Mr. Trump sat in his dining room just off the Oval Office, “watching them threaten his own vice president.”
Mr. Biden also highlighted recent warnings about Mr. Trump from former Republican Liz Cheney, calling her a “powerful voice.”
“American democracy, I give you my word as a Biden, is at stake,” the president said at the first of three campaign fundraisers in the Boston area. Drawing some laughter from donors, Mr. Biden also mused: “He didn’t even show up at my inauguration. I can’t say I was disappointed, but he didn’t even show up.”
The president is pushing to raise money for his reelection effort before the end of the year, appearing at seven events through Monday — with more to come. The events in Boston on Tuesday benefit his campaign and the broader Democratic Party.
They included an evening event in the city’s theater district featuring a concert by singer-songwriter James Taylor, who helped kick off a White House event in 2022 celebrating the Inflation Reduction Act, a climate and health care bill that Mr. Biden signed into law.
Onstage, Mr. Biden joked to the packed theater audience that he wouldn’t be long because he knew he was “the only thing standing” between the audience and the performance by Taylor.
“We’re always going to defend protect and fight for democracy,” he said. “That’s why I’m running.”
November was the campaign’s strongest grassroots fundraising month since Mr. Biden formally announced last April that he was seeking a second term, according to a campaign official who insisted on anonymity to discuss campaign finances before details are made public. The numbers will be released in January.
In October, Mr. Biden and the Democratic National Committee reported raising more than $71 million for his reelection in the three months ending September 30.