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Former Vice President Joe Biden has an optimistic view of Republicans in Congress despite serving for eight years in President Obama’s White House.

Bloomberg reporter Sahil Kapur tweeted an exchange Biden had with several patrons at a coffee shop in Concord, New Hampshire in which he said Republicans would have “an epiphany” following President Trump’s defeat, and work with him to pass bills following the 2020 election.

“There’s a lot of things that people have in common,” Biden said, according to a transcription of his remarks. “Between gerrymandering and unlimited campaign spending we’ve found ourselves in a position where an awful lot of Republicans become intimidated, intimidated by the president.”

“The thing that will fundamentally change with Donald Trump out of the White House, not a joke, is you will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends,” he continued.

This is a particularly sunny view of the opposition, given that Biden had a front-row seat for eight years as his boss struggled to pass even the most benign bills through Congress. In October of 2010, just before Republicans took over the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said the “single most important thing” on his agenda was to make Obama “a one-term president.”

Among the hundreds of bills McConnell and other Republicans blocked during the years Obama was in office included a bill that would take tax breaks away from companies that outsource jobs overseas while giving tax breaks to companies that move jobs back to the U.S., a bill that would have provided additional healthcare benefits to 9/11 first responders, and even a bill that would have provided aid to homeless veterans. Republicans even refused to extend unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed during the Great Recession.

10 months before President Obama left office, Republicans refused to even allow a hearing on Judge Merrick Garland’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, despite presidents having the Constitutional authority to appoint Supreme Court justices. In January, McConnell proudly referred to that moment as “the most consequential thing I’ve ever done.” While McConnell’s excuse for not allowing Garland to have a hearing was because it was an election year, he refused to definitively state that he would do the same if President Trump had a Supreme Court vacancy.

Biden’s optimism about Republicans was widely panned on Twitter. Atlanta-based activist (and Grit Post contributor) Anoa Changa called the former vice president “delusional.” The Intercept’s Kate Aronoff said Biden’s hope for a Republican epiphany was “more unrealistic than decarbonizing the US economy by 2030.” Rewire News editor-in-chief Jodi Jacobson called Biden “ridiculously privileged and out of touch.”

Biden’s earlier comment about having Republican friends is something he’s consistent about. In 2018, Biden spoke at an event for Congressman Fred Upton (R-Michigan) — a Republican who tried to kill President Obama’s signature healthcare law — which may have made the difference in him narrowly winning re-election over his Democratic opponent by just five points. Biden has also referred to Vice President Mike Pence as “a decent guy.” When questioned about his friendliness toward Republicans, Biden mocked his detractors, saying “bless me father, for I have sinned.

 

Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.

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