LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – Nothing is set in stone just yet, but if Joe Biden becomes president and Mitch McConnell remains majority leader, there is already some talk on Capitol Hill about whether their relationship could help break the gridlock and dysfunction in Washington.
“If this is the way it ends up going, there may be some level of cooperation between two old friends and foes in the Senate,” said WKYT Political Editor Bill Bryant.
Politico is calling Biden and McConnell “America’s new power couple” – two long-time senators with a long history, not just on Capitol Hill, but with each other. The two served in the U.S. Senate together for a quarter of a century and built what analysts are calling a relationship with mutual respect, or even a friendship.
In 2011, when he was vice president, Biden even spoke at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville.
“You want to see whether a Republican and a Democrat really like one another,” Biden told the crowd, with McConnell sitting behind him on stage. “Well I’m here to tell you we do.”
McConnell was also reportedly the only Senate Republican to attend the funeral of Biden’s son Beau.
At a news conference Friday in Frankfort, McConnell did not answer questions about the presidential race, instead referring reporters to a tweet of his. But on Monday, in a one-on-one interview with WKYT’s Sam Dick, McConnell did speak about working with Biden during the Obama years.
“We did the two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts in 2010, the Budget Control Act in 2011 and the fiscal cliff deal at the end of 2012,” McConnell said. “Joe Biden and I negotiated the bipartisan deal.”
Joe Biden’s ties to Kentucky do not exclusively go through McConnell, though. He visited Kentucky in 2018 to campaign for Amy McGrath during her congressional campaign. He was a friend of Senator Wendell Ford’s. And he has a sister-in-law from Owensboro.
Even though Biden and McConnell have different political views, observers say there could be signs of cooperation to come.
“They’ve been rivals, but you also have the fact that McConnell has called Biden an old friend this week,” Bryant said. “You get the feeling that with former Vice President Biden and Senator McConnell, who have known each other for a long time, they would have the ability to pick up the phone and talk to each other, and at least air out their differences and try to work something out.”