Former President Donald Trump says Democrats’ only goal in holding hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol is to prevent him from seeking a second term in 2024.
President Biden, too, seems increasingly concerned about a possible Trump revival. Fighting low job-approval numbers and 40-year high inflation, Mr. Biden told an organized labor gathering on Tuesday that Mr. Trump left the economy in a pandemic-related shambles.
“Do you remember what our economy was like, what it looked like before we took office?” Mr. Biden said in Philadelphia. “Three thousand Americans were dying every day from COVID, 20 million Americans had lost their jobs under the last guy.”
Mr. Biden said of Mr. Trump, “So many Americans lost their jobs that my predecessor became just the second president in history to leave office with fewer jobs in America than when he took office. The other one, by the way, was Herbert Hoover.”
Mr. Trump issued a 12-page statement late Monday attacking the work of the House Jan. 6 committee as a “kangaroo court.” He said Democrats are trying to distract the public from an economy in crisis and to prevent his return to power.
“This is merely an attempt to stop a man that is leading in every poll, against both Republicans and Democrats by wide margins, from running again for the presidency,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Biden’s speech to the labor convention also reminded the audience about the emergency food banks that were common during the pandemic under Mr. Trump to help people who had lost their jobs.
“Remember those long lines of cars stretching miles back waiting to get a box of food?” Mr. Biden asked. “It wasn’t just poor folks, it was working-class folks — a lot of pretty nice cars in those lines. And while it was going on, America created more billionaires during that crisis in 2020 than any year in history. Talk about a contrast. Ordinary people waiting in line for an hour for a box of food. That’s what we inherited.”
Mr. Trump said Americans are worse off in less than two years under Mr. Biden, facing $5 gasoline and shortages of baby formula.
“During my time in office, our nation was thriving, our economy was strong, and the price of gas was very low,” Mr. Trump said. “America prospered under the Trump administration.”
The former president, who celebrated his 76th birthday on Tuesday, hasn’t said whether he will run in 2024. But he is hoarding a campaign war chest that rose to nearly $125 million on hand in a network of advocacy groups by the end of March.
Democrats on the special House Jan. 6 committee accused Mr. Trump on Monday of raising hundreds of millions in campaign contributions by misleading donors that the money would be used to litigate his claims of a stolen election.
A Morning Consult/Politico survey last week found that 53% of Republican voters said they would vote for Mr. Trump over other potential candidates if the 2024 Republican presidential primary were held now. That was down just 3 percentage points from a survey conducted before this year’s primary season kicked into high gear.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a 43-year-old Republican who defeated Mr. Trump in an unscientific straw poll of conservative activists at the Western Conservative Summit in Colorado earlier this month — rose from 13% to 16% in the Morning Consult/Politico survey. Former Vice President Mike Pence again finished third, with his support rising from 10% to 13%.
Mr. Trump cited the reasons he believes he is still popular in polls.
“Democrats have caused record inflation, sky-high gas prices, energy dependence on our adversaries, the education system is in crisis, illegal aliens are invading our border, the supply chain has crippled our way of life, parents can’t get baby formula, mandates have crippled businesses, and our way of life has been crushed by government regulations,” he said.
Stocks on Monday also continued their slide in 2022, with the S&P 500 entering a bear market, down more than 20% from its high at the start of the year. Stocks were mixed in early trading on Tuesday.
Mr. Trump said under Mr. Biden, the U.S. “is being destroyed.”
“The Democrats know that I would correct all of this, and they are doing everything in their power to stop me — but we can’t be stopped,” Mr. Trump said.
The chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat, said Monday that the panel won’t refer criminal charges against Mr. Trump to the Justice Department stemming from the riot.