The president addressed lawmakers from both chambers of Congress to lay out his record and vision for the future, including efforts to address climate change, combat cancer and build up the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic. But Biden ended his address with an impassioned call to defend a democracy he said had been “threatened, attacked and put at risk.”
“Just a few months ago, unhinged by the ‘big lie,’ an assailant unleashed political violence in the home of the then-speaker of this House of Representatives. Using the very same language that insurrectionists who stalked these halls chanted on January 6th,” Biden said. “Here tonight in this chamber is the man who bears the scars of that brutal attack, but is as tough and strong and as resilient as they get. My friend, Paul Pelosi.”
Pelosi, the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was brutally assaulted by a man wielding a hammer in October after the suspect broke into their home in San Francisco. Officials said the man repeatedly asked: “Where’s Nancy?”
Paul Pelosi suffered serious injuries in the attack and spent six days in the hospital for a skull fracture.
The alleged assailant, David DePape, has been charged with attempted murder, elder abuse and kidnapping. He called a local California television station from his jail cell last month and said he didn’t regret his actions, telling a reporter he was “sorry I didn’t get more of them.”
Many lawmakers condemned the attack on Paul Pelosi at the time, but some Republicans, including Donald Trump, mocked the victim and boosted unfounded conspiracy theories instead of denouncing the violence.
Biden has urged Republicans to work with Democrats to reject the MAGA politics of his predecessor, but the party has continued to embrace the far-right conspiracies and dog whistles of the Trump era.
Biden on Tuesday said the attack on Pelosi “never should have happened,” reiterating his call for lawmakers to speak out against political violence and “decide the course of this nation and of the world for decades to come.”
“In America, we must protect the right to vote, not suppress that fundamental right,” Biden said. “We honor the results of our elections, not subvert the will of the people. We must uphold the rule of the law and restore trust in our institutions of democracy. And we must give hate and extremism in any form no safe harbor.”