WASHINGTON – When he takes office next month, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will face a sharply divided Congress in which many Republicans argued his election was fraudulent.
But Mr Biden was optimistic on Wednesday that his decade-long centrist business dealings would enable him to go beyond the bitter partisanship of the past four years and advance his agenda.
“My lever is that every senior Republican knows that I have never misled them,” said Biden during a telephone conversation with several columnists, including David Leonhardt of the New York Times. “I will never embarrass you in public.”
As Vice President, Mr. Biden had a front row seat in the eight years of disability that Republicans led against President Barack Obama. In his second term, Obama almost gave up hope of large-scale legislative victories and turned to executive action instead. President Trump took a similar approach when fighting Democrats in the House.
But Mr Biden insisted on Wednesday that his skills and history gave him the opportunity to break the cycle.
He said the country was in a different place now. As an example, Mr Biden argued that Americans had come to a stronger consensus on climate change, with people from all political backgrounds saying they recognized the need for more aggressive action.
“I’ll be able to do things around the area that none of you will believe in,” he told the columnists. “I couldn’t have done it six years ago.”
Mr Biden expressed a similar hope for bipartisan work to combat the coronavirus pandemic and restore economic health to a country hit by job losses and business closings.
He recognized widespread fatigue with coronavirus restrictions across the country, particularly during the holiday season. Nonetheless, the president-elect described a broad readiness among Americans to do what is necessary to reduce the transmission of the virus and save lives.
“There is a new sense of urgency on the part of the public,” he said. “The American public is being painfully alerted to the magnitude and harm, as well as the incredibly high cost, of failing to take the measures we have referred to.”
Mr Biden’s optimism is sure to be put to the test quickly when he takes office. Polls show the public is deeply divided over pandemic restrictions, often by party-political standards. Regardless of which party controls the Senate after two runoff elections in Georgia in early January, Congress will be more divided than ever before.
And as President, Mr Biden needs to build bridges with both Democrats and Republicans. Once again, progressives hoping for an advocate for more liberal politics in the White House feel burned in the 2020 elections. You have already promised to pressure Mr Biden not to do business with Republicans.
When asked by journalists, who included Gerald F. Seib of the Wall Street Journal and Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post, it was asked if he was up to fighting with Republicans and the more militant member of his own party, Mr Biden, resisted .
“I respectfully suggest that I fucking beat everyone else up,” he said, noting that he had won the Democratic presidential nomination and seven million votes more than Mr. Trump. “I think I know what I’m doing and I was damn good at handling the hits. I know how to block a straight left and do a right hook. I get it.”
But he added, “I’m ready to fight. But one of the things that happens when you get into one of these types of bloodfights is, nothing is done, nothing is done.”