Bernie Sanders and Cindy McCain Write Tributes for Biden and Other Leaders on TIME 100 List

Despite their differences of opinion, Sanders has talked before about his and Biden's friendly and supportive relationship

Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders
President Joe Biden (left) and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty

President Joe Biden is receiving high praise from his former primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The Vermont independent, who campaigned in the 2020 election that Biden won, wrote a tribute to the president in the 2021 edition of TIME's 100 Most Influential People list.

"President Joe Biden came into office with a willingness to think big, not small," Sanders, 80, wrote, citing a bevy of problems — "a horrific pandemic, economic collapse, grotesque levels of income and wealth inequality, racial tension, extreme-weather disasters and dangerous attacks on American democracy" — facing the country at the start of Biden's term.

Each year TIME puts together its list of influential people, publishing accolades — or in some cases, justifications for the "influential" designation — written by colleagues, friends and famous admirers and journalists.

Though Sanders admitted he has strong disagreements with the 46th president, he wrote that he believed Biden was "the first President in a very long time who is attempting to address the fundamental crises facing our nation."

Despite their differences of opinion, Sanders has talked about his and Biden's friendly and supportive relationship. Earlier this year, he said the Biden campaign made his team feel "very welcome."

In 2016, when Biden, now 78, decided not to run for president after his time as Barack Obama's vice president, Sanders said he got advice from Biden. "He was giving me his advice — political advice — and they were, I think for me, very useful conversations, and friendly conversations."

In the 2020 general election, Sanders said he returned the favorite, offering his assistance to Biden with some "progressive ideas."

For the TIME 100 list, Sanders also took the opportunity to declare his support for some of the Biden administration's policies (opposed by Republicans as excessive and ineffective), including the American Rescue Plan and its measures to promote vaccinations, reduce hunger and homelessness and address child poverty.

Sanders also cited the infrastructure bill and a sweeping spending proposal as important legislation that would create jobs, help working families and face the threat of climate change.

"I look forward to working with President Biden on these transformative efforts," Sanders wrote.

Cindy McCain, Liz Cheney
Cindy McCain (left) and Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Mike Coppola/Getty; Win McNamee/Getty

Among the other tributes in the Leaders section of TIME's list are:

Liz Cheney, a Republican member of congress from Wyoming who stood out as one of the few in her party to vote to impeach outgoing President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Cheney was recognized by Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain, also a Republican, who died in 2018.

"Rare are politicians who don't claim to put country before party. Rarer still are those who actually have," Cindy wrote. "My late husband enjoyed a reputation for political independence. When John was alive, he was dedicated to the dignity of the truth, just as Liz Cheney is today. By insisting that the 2020 election had been free and fair, that the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol was an assault on America's democratic character and that President Trump bore responsibility for it, she set an example of selfless patriotism that will endure long after her own ambitions are at rest."

Stacey Abrams was another honoree, given much credit for boosting voter turnout in Georgia in 2020. Harry Belafonte wrote: "The inordinate strength revealed by Black people in America — in their capacity to survive the harsh political journey they experience in this country — is in large part due to the fortitude of Black women. The power to exercise this resistance is in no small part due to leaders like Stacey Abrams."

Stacey Abrams
Stacey Abrams. Paras Griffin/Getty

Vice President Kamala Harris — the first woman, Black person and Asian person to hold the office — was called "the best" by House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

"I have known the Vice President for a long time.," Pelosi wrote. "We are Californians with a common motivation: family. The Vice President's mother raised her two daughters as she worked as a scientist to cure breast cancer. Her mother's self-determination drives the Vice President's work — whether that is providing tangible relief to families, lifting up women in the workforce or defending the right to vote."

Fox News' star Tucker Carlson also made the list. "Love him or hate him, Tucker Carlson may be the most powerful conservative in America," the entry reads.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, meanwhile received praise from colleague Susan Collins, a Republican. "In 2021, Joe is in the midst of every debate," the Maine lawmaker wrote. "Joe believes passionately that bipartisanship leads to the best solutions, and he wants to prove it can still work. As someone who shares his belief in working across the aisle, I always want him on my side."

And Biden's White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain had the admiration of Secretary Hillary Clinton, who wrote, "Sometimes the most qualified person gets the job … It's hard to imagine anyone better suited for this impossible position than Ron Klain."

Donald Trump also appears on the list, with an entry that touches on his fascination with appearing on the cover and in the pages of TIME. "​​On his very first day as President, Donald Trump stood on hallowed ground at the CIA and boasted of holding 'the all-time record in the history of TIME magazine' for being on the cover," the blurb reads. "That record is actually held by Richard Nixon, the other modern President in competition for doing the most violence to values, norms, honor and decency undergirding American democracy."

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