President Joe Biden called out Republicans in Congress as “the party of chaos and division” and said they are “worse” than Strom Thurmond, a former South Carolina senator who ran for president as a segregationist in 1948.

“I’ve been a senator since ‘72. I’ve served with real racists. I’ve served with Strom Thurmond. I’ve served with all these guys that have set terrible records on race. But guess what? These guys are worse. These guys do not believe in basic democratic principles,” Biden said at a fundraiser in San Francisco on Wednesday, according to the pool traveling with him. “Time and again Republicans show they are the party of chaos and division.”

Biden’s comments come as Republicans in Congress are holding still a foreign aid package that would send aid to Ukraine and Israel. The $95.3 billion foreign aid bill, which was passed by the Senate last week, still faces a showdown in the House as House Speaker Mike Johnson has told his House Republican Conference members that he is not rushing to respond to the bill.

Johnson responded to Biden’s comments on X saying, “Outrageous. The least popular President to seek re-election is now so desperate and so underwater in the polls he’s playing the race card from the bottom of the deck.”

Biden has faced criticism in the past for his comments about some senators who supported segregation. He spoke at a tribute for Thurmond’s 90th birthday in 1993 where he praised him by comparing the former South Carolina senator to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

At an earlier fundraiser on Wednesday, Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a crazy SOB,” according to the pool reporters traveling with the president.

“We have a crazy SOB that guy, Putin, others. And we always have to be worried about a nuclear conflict. But the existential threat to humanity is climate,” Biden told those gathered at the fundraiser.

The president also criticized Trump’s comments likening his legal troubles to the death of Russian opposition leader and Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny.

“He’s comparing himself to Navalny and saying that because our country’s become a communist country, he was persecuted, just like Navalny was persecuted. Where the hell does this comes from,” Biden said, according to reporters in the room. “If I stood here 10 to 15 years ago and said all this, you’d all think I should be committed. … It’s astounding.”

Biden’s comments directed at Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, and GOP lawmakers ahead of the election in November, indicate some of his strongest comments since launching his reelection bid.

CNN previously reported the president has personally directed his senior campaign aides in recent days to focus more aggressively on Trump’s inflammatory comments.

The president is expected to appear at another campaign event Thursday in Los Altos Hills, California before returning to the White House on Thursday evening.


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