• Biden said on Thursday that he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “really are friends.”
  • He added that he thought McConnell was a “man of honor.”
  • In his speech, Biden called for unity among lawmakers to get past “palpable” divisions.

In a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, President Joe Biden had kind words for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who he called his friend.

“Mitch, I don’t want to hurt your reputation, but we really are friends,” Biden said, addressing McConnell. “And that is not an epiphany we’re having at the moment. You’re a man of your word, you’re a man of honor. Thank you for being my friend.”

In his speech, Biden called for unity and for politicians to bridge the “palpable” divisions in the nation. 

“Unity doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything, but unity is where enough of us believe in a core of basic things,” Biden said. “The common good, the general welfare. A faith in the United States of America.”

He added that he hopes to return to a point in politics where people get along despite differing political ideologies. 

“One of the things I pray for, and I mean it, is we sort of get back to the place … that we really know each other,” he added.

Biden’s call for unity comes ahead of a landmark Supreme Court nomination that he is expected to make by the end of February, following Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement announcement on January 27. At the moment, the Democratic Party no longer has a majority in the 50-50 Senate after New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Luján was hospitalized after suffering a stroke. That means that until Luján’s return, Biden’s SCOTUS nominee will need the help of at least one GOP senator to be approved.

Biden has vowed to nominate a Black woman to the SCOTUS. One of the potential nominees on Biden’s shortlist is District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs, who may have the backing of Sen. Lindsey Graham. Other names that have been floated include Judges Ketanji Brown Jackson, Leondra Kruger, and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi.

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