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Biden urges unity in July 4th speech, while acknowledging the country's sour mood

President Biden, with First Lady Jill Biden at his side, delivers remarks at a 4th of July BBQ with military families at the White House.
NICHOLAS KAMM
/
AFP via Getty Images
President Biden, with First Lady Jill Biden at his side, delivers remarks at a 4th of July BBQ with military families at the White House.

President Biden said the U.S. will persevere through "unsettling" times in remarks at a July 4th barbecue with military families at the White House.

"The economy is growing, but not without pain. Liberty is under assault, assault both here and abroad," he said. "In recent days, there has been reason to think that this country is moving backward, that freedom has been reduced, that rights we assumed were protected are no longer."

The holiday comes just over a week after the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, overturning the constitutional right to abortion that had been upheld for nearly a half century.

"I know it can be exhausting and unsettling," Biden said. "But tonight, I want you to know we're going to get through all of this."

He said the United States has always been "a work in progress."

"After we've taken giant steps forward, we've taken a few steps backwards," the president said. "And after doing the hard work of laying the foundation for a better future, the worst of our past has reached out and pulled us back on occasion."

But Biden said he remains optimistic of the country's future, insisting that Americans are "more united than we are divided."

Biden is facing a country that doesn't appear so optimistic at the moment. A recent AP/NORC poll showed 85% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track. The president's approval rating among voters stands near the lows of his presidency, with 40% approving of Biden's job performance in the most recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, despite the Democratic Party gaining favor among voters in the same poll.

"We've been tested before, just as we're being tested today," Biden said in his July 4th remarks. "But we've never failed, because we have never walked away from the core beliefs and promises that define this nation."

Bide also spoke of "principled patriotism," saying: "No person, no party, no interest can take precedent over the American project."

The remarks nod to the test of American democracy on Jan. 6, 2021, when a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol with the aim of disrupting Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.

A House committee investigating the events leading up to that attack continues to hold televised hearings.

Biden called on all Americans to commit to ensure that "America is forever a place not marked for the thirst for power at any cost but by a covenant of trust, and hope and promise."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.