Manchin says he supports Collins reelection
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Thursday he would support Sen. Susan Collins’s (R-Maine) reelection bid in 2020 and even offered to campaign for her in Maine.
It is highly unusual for a member of one party to formally support a politician on the other side of the aisle. But Manchin and Collins have worked together on a number of issues over the years. Both are also centrists who have bucked their parties.
Collins is “a dear friend,” Manchin said. “I would go up and campaign for her … For America to lose someone like Susan Collins would be an absolute shame. I feel that strongly about this lady.”
Smiling, Manchin asked, “Do you think my party would be happy?”
Manchin added that he has a very strong relationship with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is expected to play a leading role in recruiting a Democrat to challenge Collins. While acknowledging he and Schumer don’t always agree, Manchin said, “We understand each other.”
Manchin made the remarks in an interview for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program. The show will air Friday at 10 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m.
Collins hasn’t formally announced her reelection campaign but is expected to do so. She will be a Democratic target in 2020, largely because of her support for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Manchin also backed Kavanaugh.
Other topics Manchin addressed include:
*Herman Cain and Stephen Moore. Manchin indicated he doesn’t think either Cain or Moore, who are Trump selections to serve on the Federal Reserve Board, are qualified. Both picks are seen to be on shaky ground, since all Democrats are expected to oppose both Cain and Moore. Some Republicans have balked at Trump’s nominees, raising qualification issues and allegations of sexual misconduct by Cain.
* Efforts to get him to become a Republican. Manchin said Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), have tried to get him to become a Republican “many times.” He said it could never happen because of where he stands on taxes and health care.
* 2020 presidential race. Manchin has not ruled out voting for President Trump, who won West Virginia by 42 points in 2016. He’s also not ruling out backing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), though he said a Sanders nomination would “create challenges” for the Democratic Party.
Pressed on who he will back, Manchin replied, “I wouldn’t take anything off the table,” adding that it’s early in the 2020 cycle.
Manchin did note he has recently talked to former Vice President Joe Biden and thinks Biden will get into the race. Manchin has publicly defended Biden amid allegations of unwanted touching.
* Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Manchin said he thinks Pelosi has “done an admirable job,” likening her job to “herding cats.” He credited her for downplaying the chances of impeaching Trump and focusing on health care.
* Trump. Manchin said his relationship with the president “is the craziest relationship in the world I’ve ever been involved in.” He pointed out that Trump will call him regularly and also campaigned against him in 2018.
* 2018 race. Manchin, who is mulling a run for West Virginia governor in 2020, said his 2018 reelection race “took a toll” on him and called the contest the nastiest he has ever experienced. The 71-year-old senator narrowly defeated Attorney General Patrick Morrisey last November in the red state.
* The Democratic Party. Manchin blames the press for “the perception” that the Democratic Party has moved left, highlighting the number of moderate Democrats who were elected in 2018. The media focuses on high-profile progressive freshmen in the House and he said that leads to the perception that the party “has gone plenty off the rails.”
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