“You got to make it clear to Republicans that you understand on some things there’s a rationale for compromise,” Biden said at a candidate forum here.
Biden previously said Republicans would become more accommodating once President Donald Trump was out of office. “With Trump gone, you’re going to begin to see things change,” he said earlier this month, a claim that drew mockery from Biden’s former Democratic colleagues in the Senate.
On Monday, speaking at a presidential forum organized by the civil rights leader Rev. William Barber and his advocacy organization, the Poor People’s Campaign, moderator Joy-Ann Reid asked Biden how he would get anything done if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) remained in charge.
Biden acknowledged that some thought his faith in Republicans was “naive.” He reiterated his belief in bipartisan cooperation but also said compromise is not always possible. In that case, his strategy would be to persuade the public.
“You have to go out and beat these folks if they don’t agree with you by making your case, and that’s what presidents are supposed to do, to persuade the public,” Biden said.
Still, he touted his own powers of persuasion on Capitol Hill, reminding the audience that he helped win over three Republican senators on the 2009 stimulus bill.
“You try to persuade,” he said. “Doesn’t mean you can do it all the time. But it kept us from going into a depression.”
The forum gave low-income Americans the chance to ask the presidential candidates about their stances on issues that affect the poor ― including health care, living wages for workers, clean air and water, housing, and voting rights. Biden pointed to his education proposals but largely avoided specifics.
Another presidential hopeful, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), said at the forum she favored eliminating the filibuster ― a Senate tradition that Biden defended during his time as a senator from Delaware.
“If we’re in the majority and Mitch McConnell wants to block us on the kinds of things our country needs and the kinds of things they elected me and other people to enact, then I’m all for getting rid of the filibuster,” Warren said. “We cannot let him block things the way he did during the Obama administration.”