Two stood on the opposite side of the presidential ticket in 2012, though, as Romney reminded CNN on Tuesday, that didn’t stop Biden from speaking at Romney’s 2017 political summit.
“It was nice to have come to talk at my conference in Utah, and we’ve probably spent an hour with our wives and had a very nice meeting. He looks like a very down-to-earth, glamorous guy,” Romney said. .
After spending 36 years in the U.S. Senate, Biden will have more experience on Capitol Hill than any other U.S. president. Yet only a quarter of them are still in Congress, meaning you have to rely on some key connections to get things done. In maintaining working relationships with the leaders of the two chambers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Biden must rely on a handful of moderate and close political allies.
Here are the key relationships to look out for between Biden and Hill at the beginning of the administration.
One of Biden’s most important allies will be the man who now occupies his Senate seat, Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat. Coons has been a friend for over 30 years and remains an unofficial consultant, in regular contact with Bidendel and his team.
A senior subordinate of the Democratic Capitol Hill said Coons spoke to Steve Ricchetti, a future White House adviser and White House incoming chief of staff, several times a week during the transition.
Considered temperamental and willing to work with Republicans, Coons will be a reliable barometer for his fellow senators of where the new president is.
“He trusts them to be a trustee,” the Democrat helper said. “And I think people in the Senate know that if Chris Coons comes up to you with an idea, the (Biden) White House will fall behind.”
For Biden, the Coons will be just as important in measuring the temperature that any group of centrist senators weigh the balance over presidential candidates, spending bills, or big legislation.
There was a time when Joe Manchin was least received by the Democrat in the Obama White House. The West Virginia senator has often found himself voting against the administration on issues such as climate, trade and arms. And for the second term, Manchin was in regular contact with only one Obama administration official: Bidendel.
“Manchin didn’t have much of a relationship with the Obama administration with anyone except Joe Biden,” the Democratic Hill assistant said. “Biden was the only person (in the White House) that Manchin called and the only person who called Manchin.”
Biden eventually became Manchin’s key adviser on a gun control bill he wrote in 2013, drawing on his own experience in drafting gun-related legislation. At one point, Manchin asked Biden to shut down the White House for public support for the legislation – which would have killed any momentum to gain GOP support.
“Biden has prevented the White House from supporting it and saying nothing about it,” the Democrat helper said.
Manchin can also help Biden build a bridge in front of Trump’s voters. West Virginia is the second most pro-Trump state (behind Wyoming) to give Manchin insight into some of Trump’s working-class white voters who continue to distance themselves from the National Democratic Party.
If Biden hopes to regain his place with these voters, he could do worse than keep calling Manchin.
There is also room for a Republican centrist contingent. Sens. Romney, Susan Collins (Maine), Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) and Rob Portman (Ohio) can occasionally cast decisive votes on their party’s secession. But Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski could be Biden’s most important partner on this front.
Murkowski will be re-elected in 2022, which means he will exert cross-pressure both on his right within the Alaska GOP and on centrist voters who have occupied his support base in two terms.
On social issues and judicial appointments, Murkowski was the most willing Republican senator to break up with Mitch McConnell and the GOP conference – an opportunity for the Biden administration.
But given the challenges the Conservatives have faced in the state’s last two re-election efforts – a successful primary challenge forced Murkowski in 2010 to run as a general writer candidate and then a strong libertarian party challenge in 2016 – Murkowski must be careful in his choice .
This may give Biden some insight into where this key GOP vote in the Senate might be most sensitive.
Perhaps no one is more responsible for Joe Biden’s presidency than MP James Clyburn. His pre-election approval for South Carolina earlier this year revived Biden’s struggling campaign by bringing black voters south.
It was the first step for Biden to secure the nomination, but it didn’t end there. Clyburn also took some accolades for encouraging the election of fellow runner-up Senator Kamala Harris.
Clyburn, the top black MP in Congress and a third-place Democrat in the House, is in a strong position to continue to influence Biden’s staff and politics. Days after Biden’s election, Clyburn told CNN that he often talks to the transition team.
“From what I hear, black people have been fairly considered,” Clyburn told Williams. “I’d like to see where the process leads, what it produces. … But it’s not good so far.”
The House’s speaker next January will have a much narrower democratic majority, giving a relatively louder voice to Nancy Pelosi’s electorate electorate. Some of the voices on the left, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a representative, are already directing a rhetorical fire similar to Manchin’s, predicting a possible civil war between Democrats.
Pelosi’s job is once again to keep him in line with the House of Representatives, but it will help him become his Democratic partner in the White House again. By maintaining a positive working relationship, Pelosival Biden may be able to redirect some of its internal energy to the productivity of the legislature.
He and Pelosi look back on a long history of drafting great legislation, first in their joint years in Congress and then under the Obama administration when the Incentives and Affordable Benefits Act was passed. Pelosi also worked with Bidend to support the Democratic House in the Iranian nuclear deal.
One of Pelosi’s assistants told CNN that he and Biden were “being cut from the same fabric.”
In the last days of the Obama administration, when Biden last stood on the Senate floor, members sent the outgoing vice president. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader of the Republican Senate, who served with Biden for 24 years, first paid tribute to the man himself and their positive working relationship.
McConnell said he “tacitly” trusted Biden and praised the vice president as a negotiating partner.
“There’s a reason why‘ Sign up for Joe on the phone ’is‘ Time to get serious ’in my office,” McConnell said.
There is also a risk that the majority leader’s silence could overwhelm contact with the incoming president because of Trump’s allegations of baseless election fraud. McConnell was only willing to say that the “process” of the election was coming out and had not yet recognized Bident as the elected president.
But after Biden is inaugurated, the Kentucky Republican is ready to get serious again. McConnell’s relentless pragmatism suggests that Biden will find areas to work with. Some funds are already being laid to confirm many of Biden’s proposed cabinet candidates, with Republican senators praising some members of the announced national security team.
Ultimately, it will be in McConnell’s best interest to protect and increase his majority. This will limit Biden from judicial nomination to large legislative packages. Much of what the next two years will look like depends on how willing McConnell is to “call Joe” and close the deal.
CNN’s Ted Barrett contributed to this story.