In the final days before the midterm elections, Democratic Senate candidate and West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin doubled down on his opposition to parts of the health care law, legislation he supported when it was being debated in Congress last spring.
Manchin said on “Fox News Sunday” that he would not have supported the bill if he had been made aware of everything that was in it at the time. While he still fully supports “the concept” of the health care overhaul, he called the final product “overreaching,” citing the new tax mandate on businesses and the lack of protection against government-subsidized abortions.
“Knowing that, I would not have supported that or voted for that at that time,” he said.
Manchin added that he still supports parts of the bill that halt insurance companies from discriminating against customers with pre-existing conditions and the ability for young people to stay on their parents’ health care plan until they are 26-years-old.
“There’s a lot of good parts to it,” he added. “Why don’t we fix what’s wrong with it and make it better?”
Manchin, who has received endorsements from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Rifle Association, is in a dead heat race with Republican businessman John Raese for West Virginia’s Senate seat.
The Manchin campaign has taken great pains recently to distance the candidate from President Obama and the Democratic leadership. One recent ad shows the governor firing live bullets into the “cap and trade” bill after announcing that he will “repeal the bad parts of Obamacare.”
A spokesman from the Republican committee supporting Raese said that no matter what Manchin says on the campaign trail, he will support the Democratic Party leadership if elected.
“When the rubber met the road, he rubber-stamped Obamacare and the failed stimulus, and if elected to the Senate he will continue to rubber-stamp the Obama agenda,” said Brian Walsh, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Manchin, who also says in the ad that he wants to “get the federal government off our backs,” has batted away suggestions that he will toe the party line.
“We’re just a different kind of Democrat down here in West Virginia,” he said.