U.S. President Joe Biden marked the annual Labor Day holiday Monday by hitting the campaign trail in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to help Democrats in midterm elections and renewed his attacks on what he called the “extreme right” in American politics.
He criticized Republicans who embrace what he called an “extreme ideology,” saying some in the GOP have “chosen to go backwards, full of anger, violence, hate, division.”
Biden said he wasn’t talking about all Republicans in remarks he made last week in which he said those following former President Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) agenda are a threat to democracy.
Republicans have criticized the president’s comments as divisive.
“Not every Republican is a MAGA Republican,” he told a workers’ gathering in the Midwestern city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Monday.
Later in the day Biden traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to meet with union workers.
He told members of the United Steelworkers of America that the country is at an inflection point in which “we will either look forwards or look backwards.”
“And it’s clear which way [Trump] wants to look. It’s clear which way the new MAGA Republicans are. They are extreme. Democracy is really at stake,” he said.
Biden also talked Monday about the importance of workers as he commemorated the Labor Day holiday.
“The middle class built America … but unions built the middle class,” he said.
Both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are swing states with high-profile races in the November midterm elections in which Democrats and Republicans are fighting for control of a closely divided House and Senate.
Both battleground states are also electing governors, positions that could influence the results in the 2024 presidential elections.
This is Biden’s third visit to Pennsylvania in the past week and also follows a visit to the state by Trump on Saturday. Trump has endorsed Republicans in key races around the country and said Saturday that Biden’s comments show he is “an enemy of the state.”
Biden’s praise of labor unions echoed themes from his 2020 presidential campaign in which his support of unions earned him important union backing that helped him to secure the Democratic nomination.
Biden on Sunday expressed his support for a California state measure that would give agricultural workers expanded ways to vote in union elections.
“Government should work to remove — not erect — barriers to workers organizing. But ultimately workers must make the choice whether to organize a union,” Biden said.
California’s legislature has approved the bill, which would let workers cast union ballots by mail. But California Governor Gavin Newsom has opposed the measure in its current form, with a spokesperson citing concerns about the system being untested and lacking necessary steps to protect election integrity.
Monday’s holiday honoring workers in the United States was first celebrated in 1894, and it includes parades and other events in cities across the country.
Labor Day also represents an unofficial end to summer with a last busy long weekend for travelers and many children set to begin their school year.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press and Reuters.