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Biden Administration Will Create Position to Reach Conservatives

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 12/8/2020 Jennifer Jacobs
Cedric Richmond wearing a suit and tie: Representative Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. Efforts by Congress to limit the types of military equipment the Defense Department can transfer to law enforcement departments is unlikely to touch an even bigger source of advanced weapons accessible to civilian police. © Bloomberg Representative Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. Efforts by Congress to limit the types of military equipment the Defense Department can transfer to law enforcement departments is unlikely to touch an even bigger source of advanced weapons accessible to civilian police.

(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration plans to create a position to find common ground with conservatives, said Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser and director of the Office of Public Engagement for the president-elect.

“Right now I’m trying to set up the office and I’m actually looking at establishing a position that reaches out to conservatives -- because it’s about moving forward. We cannot stay where we are,” Richmond said during the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council on Monday night.

He said the office’s goal was to forge connections with all Americans, regardless of their political affiliation. “We’re not elected just to help Democrats or urban cities or minorities,” he said. “We were elected to help this entire country and that means reaching out to conservatives, that means reaching out to rural areas, reaching out to people who didn’t vote for us.”

President-elect Joe Biden named Richmond, a campaign co-chair, to head the Office of Public Engagement last month. On Monday, Biden appointed him as one of five co-chairs of his inaugural committee.

Part of Richmond’s mandate is to help the incoming Biden administration’s relations with Republicans in Congress. He said he would work to “create a demand in the country to make politicians work across the aisle and to work together.”

Read More: Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Pledge Leaves a Mixed Record

He said one area of agreement could be infrastructure. “The famous words are, there’s no such thing as a Democratic bridge or a Republican bridge,” he said at the Journal event.

Congress, he added, should work on “a very quick infrastructure bill to put people to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure making the country, greener and cleaner.”

Richmond, who will resign his seat representing most of New Orleans in Congress, also said that part of his mandate would be “private sector engagement” and to serve as a “conduit straight into the White House” for chief executive officers.

“Nobody’s going to persuade me that somehow, some way that CEOs in this country are bad people,” he said. Business leaders, he added, “are creating jobs and they deserve a seat at the table.”

Richmond added that business would find an administration that is “willing to listen” and didn’t intend to be “punitive.”

“We will just do those things we find that are absolutely necessary to do and if that means raising the corporate tax rate to achieve infrastructure investment, which is important to both business and to normal everyday citizens, I think that that may be some middle ground that everybody can support,” he said at the CEO Council.

(Updates with references to Wall Street Journal event, in sixth and final paragraphs.)

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