Biden campaign previews Jan. 6-focused speech with new TV ad

As President Joe Biden prepares to deliver his first major re-election speech of 2024, marking the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, his warning about the fragility of America’s democracy will be front and center in the campaign’s first ad to hit the airwaves this year.

The Biden campaign says the new 60-second spot highlights “the existential threat our country’s democracy faces from the MAGA extremism that now defines the Republican Party.” It draws heavily from a prominent speech Biden made in Arizona last fall, when he said that the MAGA movement “does not share the basic beliefs in our democracy” and that it posed a threat to democratic institutions.

“All of us are being asked right now: What will we do to maintain our democracy?” Biden says in the ad, asking the American people to join him in “this cause.”

“History is watching. The world is watching. And most important, our children and grandchildren will hold us responsible,” he says.

The ad also features remarks from a speech two years ago in Atlanta, where Biden said he and Vice President Kamala Harris have supported voting rights bills “since Day 1 of this administration.”

While Biden’s 2024 campaign launch video prominently featured scenes of the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, the new ad is at least a momentary departure from what had been the main focus of the campaign’s paid advertising to date — selling his economic vision.

The Biden campaign itself says it is starting 2024 with a renewed focus on the significant stakes for American democracy on the ballot this year. There are more than 300 days until the general election, but Biden’s campaign is sharpening the democracy message as Republican voters will begin the process of determining their standard-bearer on Jan. 15 with Iowa’s leadoff caucuses.

“Over the last three years, MAGA Republicans haven’t shied away from the Big Lie — they’ve doubled down. This ad serves as a very real reminder that this election could very well determine the very fate of American democracy,” campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement.

The Biden campaign says the new advertisement will start airing Saturday and through the following week, on both national news programming and in local markets in seven key battleground states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Shorter versions of the message will also run on digital platforms like YouTube and Instagram.

In his Arizona speech, Biden invoked the MAGA movement and referred to former President Donald Trump by name. The new ad does not mention either, though it features Trump supporters and banners at the Capitol from the Jan. 6 riot. It reflects the careful balancing act the Biden campaign is engaged in with Trump, who the campaign expects will be the Republican nominee, and how to message around him with key voters who it expects are likely to swing the election.

Biden will deliver remarks Friday near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, a day before the third anniversary of the attack on the Capitol as Congress was set to formally tally the Electoral College votes. He marked the first anniversary with remarks in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall and the second with a White House ceremony.

Now, Biden is once again drawing on a historical landmark to highlight a major theme of his re-election campaign — the battle for the soul of America. In the final weeks of the 2020 race, he delivered major addresses in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Warm Springs, Georgia, evoking wartime leaders Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, respectively. On the eve of the 2022 midterm elections, Biden went to Philadelphia’s Independence Hall to again warn that “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”