The prevalence of more centrist figures in the early stages of Biden’s team building rather than the most liberal components of the Democratic Party backs the position of Republicans who would prefer to secure their own party in the populism associated with President Trump, who still has not conceded the presidential race and proceeds to challenge the results in multiple states.
"My concerns, as I've said before, about what I'm seeing from Vice President Biden is that the people who he wants to be in his Cabinet are all a bunch of corporate liberals and warmongers,” Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, told reporters. “So I'd like to see him break the mold.”
Hawley has tried to define himself in his first Senate term as someone attempting to form a coherent legislative agenda around Trump’s populist rhetoric that deviates from the conventional Republican policies that have ruled since Ronald Reagan, which has got him intraparty critics.
Although this differs from the standard GOP criticism of Biden on the campaign trail. “If Biden wins in November and appoints Bernie Sanders as Secretary of State,” Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted in September, “we’ll see open hostility to our friend and ally Israel and an open embrace of tyrannical socialist dictators like Venezuela’s Maduro.”
One intraparty critic of Hawley proposed this is a departure from the Missouri lawmaker’s own warnings of a Biden administration, noting he told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson that the former vice president was “in thrall” to the “Marxist Left.”
“Let me explain this to you. Corporate liberals are woke capitalists,” Hawley shot back. “The corporatists love critical race theory and all the other warmed-over Marxist garbage. They sell out working Americans and sneer at them at the same time. That’s the new Left.”
This development occurs as congressional Republicans, already balking at the price tag of new COVID-19 relief legislation, a problem on which Hawley has been outnumbered in his party were assumed to rediscover their inner libertarians in time to oppose Biden’s spending initiatives.
“There haven’t been as many AOC types on Biden’s team as we thought, though they are plenty liberal enough,” said a Republican strategist. “This is kind of where we are now.”
“He is no Howell Heflin, he is no Sam Nunn,” a second GOP tactician said of Biden, pointing to Southern centrist Democrats of the past.
Biden sticking with well-known faces in staffing his administration could nevertheless force Republicans to reevaluate their messaging in the coming months. “His historic advisers are going to try to push him toward the middle,” said Timothy Head, executive director of the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition. “Those trying to push him to the left, those are new voices for him.”