Vice President Biden is calling his former colleagues on Capitol Hill on a near-daily basis as he mounts a full-court press to achieve new gun control measures.
Biden has already held private meetings with Republican senators, including John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Johnny Isakson (Ga.), according to a senior administration official. The official added that Biden would also be spending considerable time on Capitol Hill in the weeks to come.
“There are always a lot of dark alleys on these issues, but he’s been trying to shake that all out,” the official said. “He’s making sure he’s hearing from everybody and knowing where the pressure points are.”
Gun control is the latest subject where Biden had been called upon to leverage his relationships in Congress for President Obama’s benefit.
As was the case with the deal on the so-called fiscal cliff reached between Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at the end of last year, Obama has set out an overall framework but his deputy has filled in the details.
“President Obama is the strategist and Vice President Biden is the tactician,” said Democratic consultant Chris Kofinis. “I think the president is laying out the frame, the message, the vision about where we need to go and why. The vice president understands how to make that happen. You have two interlocking pieces that work very well together.”
Republicans, of course, do not see it that way, arguing that Biden’s political skills are overrated.
“His effectiveness depends on how you define his role,” said GOP strategist Ken Lundberg. “So far, his work has been to rally allies and berate opponents. In that role, he’s very effective but, as for reaching out to the other side, he’s impotent. He’s breaking no new ground, and that’s probably by design.”