President Biden had kind words for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., during remarks where he noted that lawmakers can vehemently oppose one another professionally while maintaining cordial personal relationships.
Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. Thursday morning, Biden praised the Republican leader’s character.
“Mitch, I don’t want to hurt your reputation, but we really are friends,” Biden said with a laugh. The president noted that this was nothing new, and “not an epiphany” he was having.
“You’ve always done exactly what you said. You’re a man of your word, and you’re a man of honor,” Biden continued. “Thank you for being my friend.”
Biden’s friendly comments were part of an address where the president recalled how it used to be common for lawmakers in the Washington to get along even if they held very different views. They were also delivered as both men prepare for what could be a contentious confirmation process for Biden’s upcoming Supreme Court nominee, whomever that person may be.
The two men spoke to each other on Tuesday about the nomination, which will be for the Supreme Court seat that will be vacant upon the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, expected to take effect at the conclusion of the current court term in June or July.
So far, all Biden has said about whom he will pick is that they will be a Black woman and “someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience, and integrity.”
According to a spokesperson for McConnell, the minority leader told the president that he believes any selection should have an originalist and textualist approach to interpreting the Constitution, which is typical of more conservative jurists. McConnell also emphasized the significance of having a potential justice who values judicial independence.
Republicans have said that they will focus on the nominee’s judicial philosophy and not make attacks on their character or personal lives.
“It won’t be a replay of Kavanaugh,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said, according to The Hill. This was in reference to the contentious confirmation process of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose process was marked by allegations that he engaged in sexual misconduct in his youth.