By ZEKE MILLER and WILL WEISSERT
CHICAGO (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday labeled his predecessor, Donald Trump, “the great MAGA king” and continued sharp criticism against Republicans ahead of midterm elections that could be bruising for Democrats.
“I think it’s important that, as we go forward, you’re gonna hear me talking more about not only what we’ve done, but what they’re trying to do,” the president told an evening Democratic fundraiser crowd of about 40 at a Chicago hotel.
The party that controls the presidency usually loses seats during the next election and, with inflation reaching its highest levels in 40 years, Biden’s party could see its control of Congress wiped out in November. To try to counter that, Biden has in recent days begun decrying “ultra-MAGA” Republicans — a reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
He told the fundraiser that the Democratic National Committee is already devoting more time and money to promoting the differences between his party and the GOP, adding, “We have to make sure we keep this clear contrast on either side.”
The president also said he has not done enough to promote his administration’s accomplishments, including a $1 trillion, bipartisan infrastructure package approved by Congress last fall.
“One of the things that I think we have to do is not just talk about what we’ve done — we don’t do that enough and that’s my fault,” he said.
But Biden also added, “Because of how outrageous some of the things that former President Trump has done and said, I think we found ourselves in the position where it was almost like, ‘How could that happen?’ ‘How could that be?’”
When an attendee’s cell phone rang, the president joked: “I know that’s Trump calling. He always does that.”
His remarks at the fundraiser followed a speech earlier Thursday in which Biden offered a new nickname for Trump, who himself enjoys bestowing often unflattering monikers on political opponents.
“Under my predecessor — the great MAGA king — the deficit increased every single year he was president,” he told the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers conference, which was also being held in Chicago. “The first year of my presidency, the first year, I reduced the deficit.”
During the conference and fundraiser, Biden also repeated criticism he’s offered lately of Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s 11-point plan. It was released in February and suggests imposing a modest tax increase on many of the lowest-paid Americans, while opening the door for cutting Social Security and Medicare.
“I call it the ultra-MAGA plan, Make America Great Again plan,” Biden told the union conference. At the fundraiser he struck a similar note, saying, “I think we have to point out how radical it is … so people are reminded what’s at stake here.”