Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) sought on Monday to defend his vote last week against repealing the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Manchin said that the military's ban on openly gay and lesbian service members "needs" to be repealed, despite his vote last week on a procedural measure that would have advanced a repeal of the policy.
"I was here three weeks. It's something that probably would be — it needs to be — and will be repealed," the newly minted senator said on MSNBC.
Manchin was the lone Democrat to vote with Republicans against ending a filibuster of the defense bill containing a provision to repeal the policy. He said in a statement that, having just been sworn in as a senator in November, he hasn't had an opportunity to evaluate his constituents' opinions on the issue.
For Manchin, who previously served as West Virginia governor, his position on "Don't ask, don't tell" seems consistent with the way he had positioned himself on controversial issues during his Senate campaign. He said that President Obama's healthcare bill should be repealed — if it can't be fixed through normal legislation. He also famously shot a copy of the cap-and-trade climate change bill in a campaign ad.
Those moves helped Manchin secure victory in a tougher-than-expected race against Republican John Raese. But since the November contest was technically a special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Manchin will be among the many Democratic seats Republicans will target in 2012.