GOP Gov. Chris Sununu Demands Biden Apology Over 'Semi-Fascism' Comment
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) on Sunday demanded an apology from Joe Biden after the president criticized a wing of the Republican Party for embracing authoritarianism.
“The fact that the president would go out and just insult half of America [and] effectively call half of America semi-fascist,” Sununu said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “He’s trying to stir up controversy. He’s trying to stir up this anti-Republican sentiment right before the election. It’s horribly inappropriate.”
Biden, speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in Maryland last week, called out “extreme” Republicans that ascribe to what he called the “ultra MAGA agenda,” referring to former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” mantra.
“What we’re seeing now, is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden said. “It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the ― I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism.”
Biden has criticized the GOP’s slide toward extremism before, but his latest comment marked a sharpened tone for a president seeking to defend his party’s narrow congressional majorities in November’s midterm elections.
Prominent Trump supporters weren’t pleased with the comparison to authoritarians, while some on the left argued Biden should drop the qualifier and call loyal Trump supporters full-blown fascists over their support for overturning free and fair elections.
“They double down on division. They use fear. They call Republicans names, and I think the American people are really sick of it right now,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said Monday during an interview on Fox News in response to Biden’s comments.
Republicans aren’t above name-calling and fear-mongering, either. GOP politicians often use labels like “socialists” and “communists” as catch-alls for members of the Democratic Party and their policies.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) recently said the country is controlled by “Marxist crazies and laptop liberals,” while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) seemed to welcome the contrast drawn by Biden.
“The communists have always called their enemies ‘fascists,’” Cruz tweeted.
Sununu on Sunday conceded there are “elements of fascism and white supremacy” in the U.S., but he argued that Biden’s comments did nothing but add to the polarization.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, another moderate Republican governor, similarly acknowledged in a Sunday interview on CBS that a strain of authoritarianism exists within the GOP.
“I’ve been talking about the toxic politics and if Republicans are calling Democrats socialists and communists and we have the president of the United States calling Republicans fascist, I don’t think it adds to the overall discussion,” Hogan added on “Face the Nation.”
But defeated Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R) didn’t hold back, warning last week that the Constitution is “hanging by a thread” in the face of Trump and his supporters’ efforts to overturn elections.
“The thought that if you don’t do what we like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves ― that to me is fascism,” Bowers, a devout Republican who supported Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, told The Guardian last week.
“The funny thing is, I always thought it would be the other guys. And it’s my side. That just rips at my heart: that we would be the people who would surrender the Constitution in order to win an election. That just blows my mind,” he added.
Bowers lost his Republican primary race for a state Senate seat early this month after he refused to try to toss out Arizona’s votes for Biden in an effort to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.