“Tackling Trump, who remains deeply unpopular outside his base, might be smart policy, especially if it brings him back into the fray,” Mr. Axelrod said, adding that it was necessary to confront the ideology that fueled the attack on Capitol Hill. “Hard to come to terms with this without confronting the author and main provider of the lie.”
Even when Mr. Biden confronted Mr. Trump, there are few signs that the address will change the behavior of Republicans beholden to the former president and reluctant to cooperate with Mr. Biden.
Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican House Leader, said in the days following the riot that Mr. Trump “bears responsibility” for the violence, only to travel to Mar-a-Lago to preserve his relationship with the former president. Kentucky Republican and Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell has been more forceful in his condemnations of the former president, but some longtime Tories show growing concern over Mr. Trump’s continued grip on the party .
Karl Rove, former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, criticized the “Republicans who for a year excused the actions of the rioters who stormed the Capitol” in an opinion piece this week in the Wall Street Journal.
Mr Biden, with a slim majority in Congress, is struggling to unite his party behind his priorities: pushing forward a climate and social spending bill, as well as federal voting rights legislation. The president’s approval ratings have been low, in part because of rising inflation and the pandemic, making adoption of his platform even more crucial ahead of the midterm elections.
Pressed by reporters after his remarks on whether his words would only deepen divisions in America, Mr Biden said he did not intend to create “a contemporary political battle” with Mr. Trump.
But he said the franchise was vital moving forward.
“The way you have to heal, you have to recognize the extent of the injury,” Mr. Biden said. “You can’t pretend. This is serious stuff. “
Pierre Boulanger contributed reports.