President Joe Biden has told campaign donors he was not sure he would be running for re-election if Donald Trump was not in the race, warning democracy is “more at risk in 2024”.
He said the former president and his allies are out to “destroy” democratic institutions.
“We’ve got to get it done, not because of me,” Mr Biden told a fundraiser near Boston. “If Trump wasn’t running I’m not sure I’d be running. We cannot let him win.”
His forceful rhetoric came after Mr Trump, the front runner for the Republican party nomination, called his successor in the White House the “destroyer of American democracy.”
On Tuesday Mr Trump was asked by Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity to promise he “would never abuse power as retribution against anybody.”
“Except for day one,” he responded. “I want to close the border and I want to drill, drill, drill. After that I’m not a dictator.”
The Biden campaign seized on the comments with an email that read, “Donald Trump: Day One Dictator.”
Asked by reporters whether he would be running if Mr Trump was not, Mr Biden said “I expect so, but look, he is running and I have to run.”
Biden said he would not drop out of the race if his rival did.
“American democracy, I give you my word as a Biden, is at stake,” the president said at the first of three campaign fundraisers. “He didn’t even show up at my inauguration. I can’t say I was disappointed, but he didn’t even show up.
“We’re always going to defend protect and fight for democracy. That’s why I’m running.”
Mr Biden will attend a fundraiser on Wednesday near the White House and another on Monday in Philadelphia.
On Friday, he will head to Los Angeles for a big-dollar event that will be his first since strikes by writers and actors effectively ground his fundraising to a halt in the heart of the entertainment industry, which has long served as a major source of campaign money for Democrats.
The event is slated to be at the home of Michael Smith, a celebrity interior designer who decorated the White House for President Barack Obama, and Smith’s partner, James Costos, a former HBO executive who was Obama’s ambassador to Spain. It is expected to raise millions of dollars and draw a crowd of celebrities. Rocker Lenny Kravitz is slated to perform.
Film director Steven Spielberg and his wife Kate Capshaw are among the hosts of the event, as are recording industry mogul David Geffen, Scandal showrunner Shonda Rhimes and This is Spinal Tap director Rob Reiner, according to an invitation.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is also a co-host. Barbra Streisand is set to attend.
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