Speed Reads

The ghost of president past

Biden says fear of Trump prevented 5 GOP senators from backing his bills

President Biden called out Republican obstructionism during a White House press conference Wednesday, suggesting it was motivated by a a desire to sabotage him politically and by fear of former President Donald Trump.

"I did not anticipate that there'd be such a stalwart effort to make sure that the most important thing was that President Biden didn't get anything done. Think about this. What are Republicans for? What are they for?" he said in response to a question.

He reiterated several times throughout the conference the need for Democrats to more effectively communicate their agenda, an agenda with which he said American voters "overwhelmingly agree."

Later, commenting on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) oppositon to his agenda, Biden said "Mitch has been very clear. He'd do anything to prevent Biden from being a success."

McConnell harshly criticized Biden in a Jan. 12 speech, accusing the president of making misleading claims about state voting laws, using overblown rhetoric, and seeking to steamroll the Senate.

Biden also suggested Republicans' united opposition to his agenda is the result of Trump's continued influence in the party.

"Did you ever think that one man out of office could intimidate an entire party where they're unwilling to take any vote contrary to what he thinks should be taken for fear of being defeated in a primary?" Biden asked. 

"I've had five Republican senators ... who've told me that they agree with whatever I'm talking about for them to do. 'But Joe,' [they say,] 'if I do it, I'll get defeated in a primary.'"

When asked to identify the five GOP senators, Biden laughed and said he would "maintain confidentiality." 

Trump frequently calls for Republicans who speak out against him to be primaried. One such target is Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who drew Trump's ire when he reufesed to help Trump overturn the 2020 election. Three pro-Trump candidates are challenging Thune for the Republican nomination.