In no uncertain terms, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said he isn’t going to toe the party line on every policy issue just because he's up for re-election.
“I don’t give a shit, you understand? I just don’t give a shit,” he told the Charleston Gazette-Mail Sunday. “Don’t care if I get elected, don’t care if I get defeated, how about that. If they think because I’m up for election, that I can be wrangled into voting for shit that I don’t like and can’t explain, they’re all crazy.”
He continued: “I’m not scared of an election, let’s put it that way. Elections do not bother me or scare me. I’m going to continue to do the same thing I’ve always done, extremely independent.”
Manchin made the comments in response to pushback he received for not signing on to a letter establishing the Democratic Party’s three main policy positions tax reform.
The West Virginia Democrat, who’s up for reelection in a state won by President Trump, was one of three Democrats who did not sign the letter, even though he said he supported his party’s fiscal ideas.
When word got out, his Republican challenger Attorney General and GOP Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey, publicly called on Manchin to step down from Democratic leadership, arguing he doesn’t fully represent West Virginians’ interests.
“The bottom line is, if it doesn’t help West Virginia, it doesn’t make sense to me, and just because there’s an election doesn’t mean I sign on or don’t sign on,” Manchin told the Gazette-Mail.
“If you look at all the time I’ve been here, there’s stuff I don’t sign on to. I just don’t think it’s a good way to do business when you don’t try to get people from the front end.”
Manchin said he wants flexibility to work with Republicans. If he signed the letter, he could be forced into accepeting a position that did not allow for any revisions in exchange for getting votes from the other side of the aisle.
“I want to be able to reach out to my friends on the other side and say, ‘Guys, you like anything here, can we do something different, any changes, what would make you comfortable to sign on?’” he said.