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Joe Biden: 'What's Mitch for?'

·Senior Writer
·3 min read
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While defending the White House’s track record during his first year in office, President Biden lamented Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s lack of a policy plan and former President Donald Trump’s influence on the Republican Party.

“Mitch has been very clear he’d do anything to prevent Biden from being a success. And I get on with Mitch, I actually like Mitch McConnell,” said Biden, who marked his first year in office with just his second press conference since assuming it.

“We like one another, but he has one straightforward objective: Make sure that there’s nothing I do that makes me look good, in his mind, with the public at large. And that’s OK, I’m a big boy, I’ve been here before,” Biden said.

Biden, first elected to the Senate in 1972, has an extensive history of working with McConnell, who entered the chamber about a decade later. Biden had campaigned for president on his ability to reach across the aisle, stating that Republicans would have an “epiphany” once Trump was out of office. On Wednesday, though, Biden questioned what McConnell stands for while wielding the 50 GOP Senate votes and thwarting much of the president’s agenda.

Joe Biden
President Biden responds during a White House news conference on Wednesday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“The fundamental question is: What’s Mitch for?” Biden continued. “What’s he for on immigration? What’s he for? What’s he proposing to make anything better? What’s he for dealing with Russia that’s different from what I’m proposing that many of his Republican colleagues are supporting as well? What’s he for on these things? What are they for?”

Earlier in his comments, Biden stated, “I did not anticipate that there would be such a stalwart effort to make sure that the most important thing was that President Biden didn’t get anything done,” adding, “What are Republicans for? ... Name me one thing they’re for.”

Biden’s comments came one day after New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu explained why he didn’t run for Senate despite being one of the Republican Party’s top recruits for this year’s midterm elections. Sununu told the Washington Examiner he was set to run until he talked to sitting Republican senators.

“They were all, for the most part, content with the speed at which they weren’t doing anything,” Sununu said. “It was very clear that we just have to hold the line for two years. OK, so I’m just going to be a roadblock for two years. That’s not what I do.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

According to the Examiner report, Sununu “said the message from virtually every GOP senator he chatted with — and he chatted with most of them — was that they plan to do little more with the majority they are fighting to win this November than obstruct President Joe Biden until, ‘hopefully,’ 2024 ushers a Republican into the White House.”

“It bothered me that they were OK with that,” Sununu added.

Sununu’s comments are in line with a December Axios report that McConnell had told colleagues and donors that the Republicans would offer no legislative agenda going into the 2022 midterms. Per the report, McConnell rejected a push for a “positive, pro-active governing outline around which candidates can rally” in favor of “[skewering] Democrats for their perceived failures.”

During Wednesday’s press conference, Biden said there would be more bipartisanship if not for the influence of Trump.

“Did you ever think that one man out of office could intimidate an entire party where they’re unwilling to take any vote contrary to what he thinks should be taken for fear of being defeated in a primary?” Biden said. “I’ve had five Republican senators talk to me, bump into me, sit with me, who’ve told me they agree with whatever I’m talking about for them to do. ‘But Joe, if I do it, I’m going to get defeated in a primary.'”

Biden, pressed on the identity of those five GOP senators, declined to name them.

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