Washington (AFP) -
President Joe Biden was embarking Thursday on a final push to try and save Democrats from defeat in next week's midterms, hours after he gave a dramatic speech casting the election as a make-or-break moment for US democracy.
Biden was flying to New Mexico, California and Illinois, before winding up with his latest of many appearances in the crucial electoral battleground Pennsylvania on Saturday.
The president spending so much campaign time in areas already considered Democratic strongholds -- like California -- indicates just how defensive the party has become.
Polls show Republicans likely to win the House of Representatives and possibly also the Senate. Currently, Democrats hold tiny majorities in both, but the party has been dragged down by popular discontent over high inflation.
Biden argued in a speech in Washington, DC, late Wednesday that the next week's contest is about far more than electoral politics, pointing out that hundreds of Republican candidates for offices across the nation have joined the false far-right conspiracy theory led by former president Donald Trump that the 2020 presidential contest was rigged.
Trump, despite being under investigation for hoarding top secret documents in his Florida golf resort and being twice impeached during his one-term presidency, has re-emerged as the Republican party's most powerful character, with many expecting him to run again in 2024.
The divisive figure, still a hero to tens of millions of Americans, is leading the charge by a slate of so-called election denying candidates. He is set to hold his latest rally in Iowa Thursday evening.
With conservatives hammering the administration over inflation, crime and illegal immigration, Biden, 79, used his Wednesday speech to attack Trump and his followers as a deeper threat to the country.
'There are candidates running for every level of office in America... who won't commit to accepting the results of the elections they're in,' Biden said.
Their goal, he said, was to follow Trump's lead and try to 'subvert the electoral system itself' -- noting there are more than 300 Republican election deniers on the ballot in races across the country this year.
'They've emboldened violence and intimidation of voters and election officials,' he charged -- less than two years after a mob of Trump supporters ransacked the US Capitol to try to overturn the 2020 result.
'That is the path to chaos in America,' he said. 'It's unprecedented. It's unlawful. And it is un-American.'
In the wake of a violent attack on the husband of the Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which dramatically heightened concerns about heated political rhetoric, Biden urged Americans to unite in defense of democracy.
'We must with an overwhelming voice stand against political violence and voter intimidation, period,' he said.
- Economic concerns take priority -
But nearly 22 months after the Capitol insurrection, polling shows that American voters are more concerned with the economy.
More than half say the price of gas and consumer goods is the economic issue that worries them the most in a new Quinnipiac University national poll.
In response to Biden's speech, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy accused the president of refusing 'to address Americans top concerns.'
'In six days, Republicans will win convincingly and help put America back on track,' McCarthy, who stands to become House speaker if the Republicans win next week's election, tweeted.