Biden targets 'extremist' Trump allies in speech

STORY: U.S. President Joe Biden took aim squarely at what he calls ‘MAGA Republicans’ in a Thursday speech...

-and called out former president Donald Trump by name...

...saying they are undermining the nation’s democracy.

He also urged voters to reject extremism ahead of the midterm elections in November.

“Equality and democracy are under assault. We do ourselves no favor to pretend otherwise.”

"Not every Republican, not even a majority of Republicans are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology. I know because I've been able to work with these mainstream Republicans. But there's no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans. And that is a threat to this country."

Aides say the president is increasingly concerned about anti-democratic trends in the GOP.

And... that he feels the need to jump into the midterms fight to re-cast what's at stake ahead of a 2024 re-election bid.

"I will not stand by and watch. I will not. The will of the American people be overturned by wild conspiracy theories and baseless evidence, free claims of fraud. I will not stand by and watch elections in this country stolen by people who simply refuse to accept that they lost. I will not stand by and watch the most fundamental freedom in this country, the freedom to vote and have your vote counted and be taken from you and the American people. Look, as your president, I will defend our democracy with every fiber of my being. And I'm asking every American to join me."

In recent days Biden had already lashed out at the MAGA philosophy, calling it ‘semi-fascism’ and slammed Republican threats against the FBI after a search of Trump's Florida home as "sickening."

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy quickly responded to Biden’s Thursday speech, saying that instead of uniting Americans, Biden had “chosen to divide, demean and disparage" them because he disagrees with them.

A Democratic fundraiser said donors are closely watching Biden in the coming months to decide whether to back a 2024 re-election bid.

And... that some have already decided the 79-year-old should step aside and pass the torch, while others want to see whether he can effectively lead the Democrats.