President-elect Joe Biden ran his campaign on a message of unity and has carried that theme into his White House transition, but not all of his past statements or new staffing choices comport with his “healing America” rhetoric.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Biden simultaneously called for the nation to come together while he berated questioners at rallies. Now that he’s begun to put together his Cabinet and advisory team, it’s clear he’s willing to surround himself with people who have antagonized Republicans and their voters repeatedly.
Biden’s staff, which some have called relatively moderate compared to the Democratic party as a whole, features a number of individuals who have made inflammatory comments in the past.
Shortly after the election, Biden’s designate Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O’Malley Dillon called Republicans a “bunch of f**ckers“ in an interview. She previously served as Biden’s campaign manager. (RELATED: House Democrats Ted Lieu And Kathleen Rice Ask FBI Director To Launch ‘Criminal Investigation’ Into Trump)
One of Biden’s first announced staffing decisions was his plan to nominate liberal activist Neera Tanden to direct the Office of Management and Budget. Tanden had been so critical of Republicans in recent years that she had to delete more than 1,000 tweets lambasting the elected officials she now needed to support her confirmation.
Among Tanden’s tweets include a characterization of all Republican politicians and President Donald Trump supporters as “evil” and the assertion that Trump’s support with the white working class demonstrated the “power of race.”
I think I’ll bet the under on @neeratanden getting the votes to confirm her if any of those will need to come from the party whose “capacity for evil knows no bounds” by her telling (among other things). pic.twitter.com/X1uTLJ6dkT
— Drew Holden (@DrewHolden360) November 30, 2020
Biden also intends to nominate Rep. Marcia Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Fudge once said Republicans need to admit they “don’t want people to vote” and read a letter on the House floor calling Trump supporters “dumb” and “racist.”
Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Biden campaign adviser, said on CNN that President Donald Trump is a “white nationalist.” In the past she’s said that the Democratic party doesn’t “need white people” leading it. Biden captured the presidency in large part by out-performing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with white voters, while Trump improved his margins with black and Latino voters. (RELATED: Kamala Harris’s Childhood Story About Calling For ‘Fweedom’ Is Almost Identical To A Story Told By MLK)
In the run-up to the Nov. 2020 election, Biden’s new climate czar John Kerry said a Trump win could kick off a “revolution” and accused Republicans of being an anti-democratic party. “Certain officials of a particular party purposefully [make] it difficult for the other party to vote.”
Ashley Etienne, the woman who led Democrats’ impeachment messaging in their attempt to remove Donald Trump from office, has a spot in the Biden administration as well. She will serve as Harris’ communications director.
Biden has largely stayed on message for his own part, but his record from the past is not without blemishes when it comes to attacking the people he now wants to unify.
While Biden did not go to the lengths Clinton did to demonize Trump supporters, he did find himself in confrontations with critics on the campaign trail a number of times. At a 2019 campaign event in Iowa, Biden called a voter fat and challenged him to do push-ups in response to a question about his son Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine. (RELATED: REPORT: China Sentences Top Banker To Death For Having Multiple Wives, Corruption)
Later on in the primary campaign, Joe Biden called a voter a “lying dog-faced pony soldier“ when she said she had previously attended a caucus. She had asked him about his poor performance in the 2020 Iowa caucuses. At another campaign stop, Biden called a voter “full of sh*t” for questioning him about his stance on guns.
Joe Biden to Michigan voter: “You’re full of shit.”pic.twitter.com/zayU6gh2Ml
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) March 10, 2020
Biden’s past runs for public office indicate that his 2020 emphasis on togetherness was a new one. As former President Barack Obama’s running mate in 2008 and 2012, he resorted to harsh personal attacks on both former Republican presidential nominees Mitt Romney and John McCain.
In 2008, Biden called his “friend” late Arizona Sen. John McCain an “angry man” who was taking the low road to the White House. He also seemed to imply McCain was a coward for questioning Obama, saying, “In my neighborhood where I came from if you got something to say to a man, look him in the eye and say it.”
One infamous attack on Romney from the then-vice president saw Biden argue that Romney was somehow sympathetic towards slavery. Biden said to a majority-black audience that the Romney-Ryan ticket wanted to “put y’all back in chains.”
Unity has not been a point of emphasis for the Trump administration, which polls have shown may have driven some voters away from the president in search of a “return to normalcy” and the president’s ongoing challenges to the results of the election resulting in a violent crowd storming the Capitol Wednesday.
That does not mean that the president-elect’s administration is poised to deliver said normalcy, though. While Biden continues to tout his ability to heal a divided nation, his campaign tactics and staffing selections raise questions about the efficacy of his efforts.