Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) stopped by for a little chat with Politico, where multiple issues arose, like Hillary Clinton’s campaign stop in West Virginia during the Democratic primaries. Manchin is a friend of the Clintons. Both of their states are the same demographically. He said that the power couple has been there to help him at times, and that there were always good lines of communication. Yet, her remarks about coal were horrible—and the senator acknowledged that.
“She said some horrific things and it was just horrible what she said,” Manchin noted regarding Clinton’s remarks about coal workers.
“We're going to put a lot of coal miners out of business,” said Clinton at the time, though she added that the statement was taken out of context. Regardless, Manchin wasn’t alone in his opinion. Former Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted that it was rather bizarre, while the Cook Report’s David Wasserman added that it was a remark from a candidate who didn’t want to win the Rust Belt and coal country. As you would expect, Clinton lost the primary. A sign of that was when CNN ventured into the Democratic county of Logan, West Virginia and found that it was Trump country. At the same time, he also offered a warning to Republicans and President Trump about the then-pending health care bill, which passed by a 217-213 vote yesterday afternoon:
Manchin, speaking to POLITICO’s Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman at a Playbook event, reiterated his opposition to repealing the Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law, which House Republicans hope to gut in a vote later on Thursday.
Saying Obamacare had helped treat people addicted to opioids and extended insurance coverage to 20 million people, Manchin said he has warned Trump that the law’s beneficiaries will blame him if they lose their insurance.
“I said, ‘Mr. President, 172,000 West Virginians got insurance for the first time,’” Manchin said. "They’ve got something they never had before. They don’t know how they got it, they don’t know who gave it to them, they don’t know the Democrats, nothing about, ‘It’s Obamacare.’ They don’t know any of that. All they know is they’ve got it.”
“And you know what? They voted for you, Mr. President,” he said. “They’re going to know who took it away from them.”
It remains to be seen about the electoral impact; the 2018 midterms are a ways off. For a state that went heavily for Trump and has gone to the Republicans since 2000—you would think Sen. Manchin would be fighting for his political life. Yet, Sen. Manchin is not your typical Democrat. He doesn’t rage against Trump or adhere to the authoritarian ethos of political correctness. He supports the policies that are best for his state. He’s considered to be part of the pro-life wing on the party, while also supporting Second Amendment rights. Centrist or conservative leaning—it doesn’t matter to him. He walks a careful path between both camps. On guns and abortion, two issues where you rarely see a Democrat take a rational position, Manchin may not be hardcore on both, but at least he’s willing to meet with both camps. On guns, he angered Second Amendment supporters by co-sponsoring a bill with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) to expand background checks. I didn’t support Manchin-Toomey either, but that’s for another time.
With abortion, Manchin goes to Planned Parenthood events, though speaks to pro-life organizations, like Students for Life. When allegations were made against Planned Parenthood for illegally trafficking human baby parts, he said that he couldn’t support taxpayer dollars going to this organization until the legal issues had been resolved. As he told Townhall a few weeks ago, he’s fiscally conservative, but socially compassionate. On Trump, he visited Trump Tower post-election, got a hug from the president during his special joint address, and voted for Jeff Sessions and Steve Mnuchin for attorney general and treasury secretary respectively. He did not vote for Betsy DeVos due to her lack of experience. The point is that Manchin is a Democrat we can work with in the Senate, something that is becoming increasingly rare. He’s also sort of the canary in the coal mine (no pun intended) for the Democratic leadership, telling them if they lose red state Democrats who can win in heavily Republican states, they’ll be in the minority forever.