WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama sent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a handwritten note thanking the Republican for backing Loretta Lynch as attorney general.
That’s right: The Democratic president and GOP leader, who have been at odds multiple times over the last six years, find themselves on the same page of late.
The Kentucky senator spoke about his role in the latest political odd couple on Sunday during a speech at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston. McConnell was the inaugural speaker for the “Getting to the Point Series.” McConnell spoke of his aspirations to be a senator, occupying Kennedy’s office in the Russell building and his drive to get work done in the Senate, with his own outreach to Democrats.
The senator said his first goal in life was to be a baseball player, “but I guess my passion for procedure proved stronger than my pitching arm.”
McConnell pointed out that Obama has agreed to sign a bill giving Congress review power on any nuclear deal with Iran, and this week the Senate will take up a trade bill that is a priority of the president.
“A lot of folks like to joke about the odd couple that was Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch,” McConnell said, referring to the late Massachusetts Democrat and the Republican senator from Utah. “But I think Mitch McConnell and Barack Obama may have them outdone. I had to warn reporters not to faint last week before offering the president some praise on trade. I’m even getting handwritten notes from the president these days. He sent one the other day to thank me for supporting the nomination of Loretta Lynch.”
Ten Republican senators, including McConnell, joined Democrats and independents in voting to confirm Lynch last month.
In his speech, McConnell was a realist, arguing that his relationship with Obama hardly comes close to the genial bond between Kennedy and Hatch who repeatedly combined forces on legislation. “What we do have, however, is common policy ground, on an issue we both think is good for the country. So the Republican majority is going to work with President Obama to get this done, even if we have to do it over the objections of his own party.”
Early on in Obama’s presidency, McConnell famously said his goal was to make Obama a one-term president.
“We’ve both chosen to put policy before party. That’s how politics should be conducted, in my view,” McConnell said Sunday.
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