West Virginia U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin issued a rare criticism of fellow Democrat Harry Reid during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday.
Manchin, a moderate Democrat, was asked by host Joe Scarborough whether he believes the Senate will run “a bit more better” now that Reid is no longer serving as Senate Majority Leader. Reid, who had served in that capacity since Jan. 2007, became Minority Leader when Democrats lost control of the Senate.
“Well, first of all, Harry’s a good man,” Manchin began. “His leadership and the things he thought would work did not. So with that, you just move on.”
“The bottom line is, Joe, you and I are both Americans first,” Manchin continued. “I think we put our country before we put our political party, or our politics.”
Reid, who recently suffered an eye injury and announced last month that he will not seek re-election in 2016, has often been accused of stoking partisan gridlock during his tenure. His divisive rhetoric has even made its way to the Senate floor. In 2012 he falsely accused then GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney of failing to pay his taxes for 10 years. And last year he called the billionaire Koch brothers, who donate heavily to the GOP, “un-American.”
During his interview, Manchin expressed some disappointment that he has been unable to bring to the Senate the success he claims he had as governor of West Virginia. Manchin was elected to the upper chamber in 2010, filling a seat left open by Robert Byrd, who died that year.
“I thought, ‘Well, we can bring that commonsense approach,'” Manchin told Scarborough. “It’s been much more challenging than I ever thought it could be.”
Manchin had toyed with the idea of running again for governor in West Virginia but announced on Sunday that he would seek re-election in the Senate.
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer will replace Reid as Senate Minority Leader.