The Biden administration responded to claims this week that the President used United States Marines as “props” for a fiery speech he gave that lambasted so-called MAGA Republicans.
The White House has spent much of this week defending President Joe Biden’s Thursday night speech out of Philadelphia that railed against “MAGA Republicans” and warned of the dangers of using the US military inappropriately as part of a threat to democracy.
The speech, which took place in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, was backlit in red and two US Marines in dress blues stood in front of the building behind Biden.
Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized the White House for its decision to have members of the military stand behind President Biden during the speech, saying it was a misstep to seemingly politicize the military.
CNN anchor Jeff Zeleny was quick to point out the perceived blunder on Twitter, writing just after the speech, “Whatever you think of this speech the military is supposed to be apolitical. Positioning Marines in uniform behind President Biden for a political speech flies in the face of that. It’s wrong when Democrats do it. It’s wrong when Republicans do it.”
Others followed in sharing negative opinions about the optics of having military members present for the speech. When another CNN anchor, Brianna Keilar, interviewed Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee executive and military veteran Allison Jaslow about the speech, Jaslow agreed that the use of the military as a visual was contradictory to the speech itself.
“Some people might see this as small ball” but “if you don’t want the so-called MAGA Republicans or any Republicans to be politicizing the military… then you shouldn’t do it yourself,” she said.
The White House responded to the criticism this week, saying there was nothing wrong with placing the US Marines behind the president for the speech.
In a press briefing on Friday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jeanne-Pierre said, “The presence of the Marines at the speech was intended to demonstrate the deep and abiding respect the President has for these services — service members, to these ideals and the unique role our independent military plays in defending our democracy, no matter which party is in power — again, no matter which power — party is in power.”
Jeanne-Pierre also said the use of military members in presidential speeches is not unusual. Pierre pointed out, “it is not abnormal. It is actually normal for Presidents from either side of the aisle to give speeches in front of members of the military,” and went on to list former presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan as examples.
She told reporters, “standing up for democracy is not political, denouncing political violence is not political, defending rights and freedom is not political, making clear that the challenges facing the nation is not political. We don’t call any of that political. We see that as leadership. And we see that as presidential.”
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE HILL
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