The contrast between President Joe Biden’s first campaign rally since he defeated Donald Trump and the last events of his successful 2020 effort was evident to anyone looking behind him.
When the man who became the 46th President of the United States was in the home stretch of his fourth presidential campaign, crowds were nowhere to be found. The then-former Vice President’s events were carefully planned to show how seriously he was taking the novel coronavirus then rampaging through the US.
Six hundred and fifty-nine days later, Mr Biden was greeted at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland by a crowd of 2,400 supporters — plus another 1,200 or so in overflow rooms.
But while the visible differences showed how some things have changed since the president graced the campaign trail last, he reminded Marylanders that the stakes haven’t.
“I want to be crystal clear about what’s on the ballot this year. Your right to choose is on the ballot this year,” he said. “The Social Security you paid for from the time you had a job is on the ballot, the safety of your kids from gun violence is on the ballot, and — it’s not hyperbole — the very survival of our planet is on the ballot”.
“Your right to vote is on the ballot,” he continued, before asking the crowd whether they were ready to fight for that laundry list of things.
“It’s not hyperbole now — you need to vote to literally save democracy again,” he said.
Mr Biden’s remarks resurrected a major theme of his 2020 campaign: That America is at “an inflection point” between democracy and autocracy.
“Americans are going to have to choose, you must choose will we be a country that moves forward or backward? Will we build a future or obsess over the past? Will we be a nation of unity of hope of optimism, not a nation of anger, violence, hatred and division?” he said.
The president added that the “extreme Maga Republicans” have made their choice.
They’ve chosen to go “backwards, full of anger, violence, hate and division,” he said.
By contrast, Mr Biden said Democrats “have chosen a different path: Forward”.
“Maga Republicans don’t just threaten our personal rights and economic security, they’re a threat to our very democracy,” he said. “They refuse to accept the will of the people They embrace political violence. They don’t believe in democracy.”
The president concluded his remarks by calling on “those of you who love this country,” including “Democrats, independents, [and] mainstream Republicans” to be “stronger more determined and more committed to saving America than the Maga Republicans are destroying America”.
“We the people are the first words of our Constitution, and we the people will still determine the destiny of America — if we the people stand together we will prevail as we the people,” he said. “We just have to keep the faith.”