Imagine the intensifying pressure on West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the Senate’s most approachable Democrat for Republicans.
In the increasingly toxic, partisan Washington, D.C., Manchin walks a treacherous path down the middle of the road. He says, “I’m a West Virginia Democrat, not a Washington Democrat.” He looks for solutions, but says “this toxic atmosphere is not for me. It’s not who I am,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
He describes President Donald Trump voters in West Virginia “like returning Vietnam veterans who did everything their country asked and then got kicked in the teeth.” He says his state has done the heavy lifting for America – mining, manufacturing to be the superpower of the world — but the Obama energy and environment policies crushed West Virginia’s spirit.
When his state elected Trump, they rejected “a traditional Democrat and a traditional Republican,” he said. Critiquing the dominant policies in his own party, Manchin says, it’s almost gotten to the point that “the Democrats are preventing the working class from working.” He thinks Trump is committed to getting things done, and in a “troubled world and a divided country,” Manchin is ready to help.
The West Virginia senator, an easy-to-like politician, chafes at those who condemn him even for having conversations with Republicans. “As Americans, we always win if we work together,” he says in this exclusive video interview.
“Harry and I have not seen eye to eye since I arrived six years ago,” Manchin says smiling. “His leadership style did not coincide with mine.” He continued, “Thank you for your service, Harry, and it’s time to move on and let someone else take over.”
Manchin skipped the Obamacare meeting with all Democrats and former President Barack Obama last month. He has pledged to vote for Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general, he has met with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and has developed such a rapport with Trump that he was considered for a cabinet position.
In the video, Manchin refuses to be a partisan obstructionist against Trump’s nominees, as others in the Democrat Party seem to promise. As a former executive or governor himself who needed his own team to govern, Manchin lays out his criteria for assessing the president’s nominees.
Manchin says he’s had more interactions with Trump since the election than all eight years with Obama, who he says “just wasn’t a mixer.” “There was no relationship-building or camaraderie” with Obama.To the Democrats fretting about Trump being President, he says, “do your job; try to make him the best you can.” And the Democrat senator distances himself from Democratic strategist David Brock, who is seeking Democrat donors for his exposed plan to impeach Trump and run a daily war room to denounce and delegitimize the president. To Manchin, Brock “does not come from any wing of the party that I associate with.”
Also in the video, the senator discusses Trump’s “travel ban” executive order and the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Videographer Sean Moody is credited with the video work for this piece.
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