'Breath of fresh air': Milwaukee Democrats say President Biden will rise to the challenges ahead
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Democrats said after only a few hours in office, President Joe Biden has already struck the right tone. They're hopeful that having their party in power at the White House will mean more support at the local level.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett had nothing but good things to say about the president. He said his inaugural address provided hope at a time when the country desperately needs it.
"He knows he's walking into just amazing challenges, but I think he's up for the task," Barrett said. "Knowing him, I can tell you he's not a vindictive person. He wants to be the president for all the people who voted for him, and all the people who voted against him."
He called the new administration a "breath of fresh air."
CBS 58 asked Barrett what he hopes Biden accomplishes in the first 100 days. Barrett said Milwaukee and the state need more vaccine doses, and they need the federal government's help to get them.
"COVID is without a doubt at the top of the list. We have to get life back to normal. We have to get people safe. And we have to get this distribution network set up very very quickly," Barrett said.
Mordecai Lee, professor emeritus at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said that will be key in creating unity.
"The most important way that (President Biden) can unify the country is with results. In other words, suddenly the immunizations are flowing better. Suddenly the percentage of infected are going down. Suddenly ICUs and hospitals are no longer overwhelmed," Lee said.
Lee said former President Donald Trump broke with tradition by not attending the inauguration.
"He never invited Joe Biden to the White House. His wife never invited Jill Biden to the White House. They didn't ride together to the inauguration," Lee said.
Chris Walton, chairman of the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County, said Trump's actions showed it was clear the country needed new leadership.
"The American people and the people of the state of Wisconsin wanted to try something different in 2016. In 2012, they saw that different wasn't better. And so they decided they wanted to make a change again," Walton said.
Walton said he was glad to see three new U.S. senators sworn in. Barrett said he believes the new makeup in Congress will make it at least slightly easier for Biden to check items off his agenda.
Lee said Biden will be looking to find a balance among the legislative branch.
"Republicans are conservatives. They don't want to spend money. Many Democrats are liberals. They love spending money. Can Joe Biden find a sweet spot that to the American public would seem reasonable and fair as opposed to partisan and ideological?" Lee asked.
He said the next steps will be for the president to get his team up and running.
"I think the biggest challenge that Biden faces over the next couple of days is to fill up his administration -- to get people confirmed, to get people nominated, to get them in position," Lee said.