Joe Manchin, Patrick Morrisey Faced Off In Only West Virginia Senate Debate

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor
  • Democrat Joe Manchin debated his GOP opponent Patrick Morrisey on Thursday night.
  • Morrisey attacked Manchin for his support of Hillary Clinton, despite her anti-coal remarks.
  • Manchin targeted Morrisey’s lobbying career and ties to drug companies.

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin faced off against Republican opponent Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Thursday night, when the two debated why they should get voter support.

Much of the debate, however, revolved around two people who weren’t present — President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (RELATED: Joe Manchin’s Campaign Says His Official Social Media Accounts Were Hacked)

Morrisey focused on Manchin’s support for Clinton during the 2016 election, despite remarks that her policies would put “coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Morrisey also touted his support for Trump’s pro-coal agenda.

“We suffered for eight years under the Barack Obama administration,” Morrisey said, adding that he filed suit against the Obama administration to overturn regulations that would have forced more coal plants to close.

Manchin has “grown accustomed to the ways of Washington,” Morrisey said in the debate. “I fought very hard for our coal miners. Senator Manchin abandoned them” by supporting Hillary Clinton, he said.

“I want to make sure West Virginia gets the conservative leadership it deserves,” Morrisey said. “Senator Manchin — you can’t trust anything he says.”

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks to the media as he arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating Russian interference in U.S. elections

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks to the media as he arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on “Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts.

“Hillary Clinton is not on the ballot,” Manchin told Morrisey after repeated references to the former Democratic presidential contender.

Trump will hold a rally in West Virginia on Friday in support of Morrisey’s campaign. Donald Trump, Jr., the president’s son, took to Twitter during the debate to attack Manchin as having “more in common with Hillary Clinton than the people of” West Virginia.

Morrissey also attacked Manchin for not supporting a state ballot initiative declaring there’s “[n]o constitutional right to abortion.” Manchin admitted during the debate he did not support the ballot measure.

Manchin, however, hit Morrisey for his ties to the pharmaceutical industry and time as a D.C. lobbyist.

Much of the debate centered on health care policy, from prescription drug prices to the opioid crisis afflicting thousands of West Virginians. Morrisey lobbied for pharmaceutical companies in the past, but his wife is still a lobbyist for the industry.

“There’s only one person who’s made money off pills,” Manchin said, referring to Morrisey. “He got rich and West Virginia got sick.”

Manchin also didn’t hesitate to point out Morrisey’s New Jersey roots while highlighting the fact he was born and raised in the state.

“I don’t think Patrick’s lying. I don’t think he’s dishonest. I think he’s confused and he doesn’t understand West Virginia because he hasn’t been here that long,” Manchin said.

Patrick Morrisey, Attorney General of West Virginia speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump looks on at a Make America Great Again rally at the Civic Center in Charleston

Patrick Morrisey, Attorney General of West Virginia, running for U.S. Senate, speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump (L) looks on at a Make America Great Again rally at the Civic Center in Charleston, West Virginia, U.S., August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis.

“He votes like a senator from New Jersey and from Washington,” Morrisey said of Manchin during the debate.

At one point in the debate, moderator Hoppy Kercheval of the West Virginia MetroNews pressed Manchin on his 11th-hour support for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Manchin announced his support for Kavanaugh minutes after Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins publicly said she would vote to confirm the former D.C. Circuit Court judge. Kercheval asked Manchin why he was the “last vote” for Kavanaugh.

“I wasn’t the last vote,” Manchin said, adding he withheld his support for Kavanaugh for weeks do he could do his due diligence and so the FBI could investigate sexual assault allegations against the judge.

“I’ve supported President Trump’s nominations,” Manchin said. Manchin voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017.

“This is another example of how Senator Manchin says one thing in West Virginia and another in Washington,” Morrisey said, again tying the question to Clinton.

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