President Joe Biden’s “ultra-MAGA” label was the result of a six-month research investigation led by top Democratic operatives searching for an edge in the November elections, according to a new report.
A reference to former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan, Biden coined the term in a speech last week to describe the GOP agenda and what he said are extreme positions from congressional and down-ballot Republicans. The president has repeated it in remarks at the White House and stump-style speeches across the country. On Tuesday, Biden’s press secretary described it as “the president’s phrase,” adding the "ultra" epithet for “a little extra pop.”
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But the origins of the attack go back further.
For six months, Democratic messaging guru Anita Dunn and the Center for American Progress Action Fund oversaw an effort to discern Republicans’ weak spot, according to the Washington Post. Dunn, a longtime Biden adviser, returned in May to the White House in a senior adviser role — the third time since the start of the president's term.
“MAGA,” the group’s surveys and focus groups found, stood out in battleground areas for its negative ties.
But the slogan, intended to malign Republicans by tying their agenda to Trump, has instead ricocheted back as many on the Right embrace the new moniker.
That includes the former president, who “absolutely loved” Biden’s reference to “my predecessor, the great MAGA king” during a Chicago union hall speech this week and mocked Biden and Democrats privately for failing to understand how to sell a political message, a source briefed on Trump’s thinking told the Washington Post.
On Wednesday, his Save America PAC sent out fundraising calls featuring merchandise emblazoned with Trump as a MAGA Superman and embracing “ultra-MAGA” as a rallying cry.
“If loving your Country and wanting to put AMERICA FIRST makes you ULTRA MAGA, then yes. WE ARE ULTRA MAGA,” reads an email.
It has also been co-opted by pro-Trump groups. An email Friday from Great America PAC asked supporters to answer “just one question”: “Are you ULTRA-MAGA?”
The White House said Biden does not fear blowback from his new rhetorical attack.
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Asked whether Biden might come to regret the slogan as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came to regret calling Trump’s supporters “a basket of deplorables” in 2016, Biden's press secretary said he would not.
“The president is not afraid to call out what he sees as extreme positions that are out of line with where the American people stand,” Jen Psaki said.