Tags: joe manchin | koch brothers | harry reid | donors

Democrat Sen. Manchin Defends 'American' Koch Brothers

By Drew MacKenzie   |   Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 03:09 PM

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has defended the conservative Koch brothers while apparently taking a swipe at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for calling them "un-American."

On Fox & Friends Thursday, Manchin made it clear that he thinks people should back off attacking billionaire industrialists and philanthropists Charles and David Koch, who pay their taxes and provide jobs to Americans.

"You don't beat up people," said the senator. "I mean, I don't agree with their politics or philosophically, but, you know, they're Americans, they're paying their taxes."

He added, "They're not breaking the law. They're providing jobs."

In January, Reid accused the Kochs during a debate on the Senate floor of trying to "buy the country" by funding and supporting powerful conservative groups attempting to oust Democrats in key Senate seats up for grabs in the November midterm elections.

But when Manchin was asked whether Reid's criticism "helps or hurts the cause of the country," he replied that it’s up to the politicians in Washington to make the changes necessary to make the country better.

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Manchin said, "If you're trying to rally the base, the bases have already been rallied. The right and left bases have been rallied. It’s us in the middle that have to start making something happen here in Washington to move this country forward."

The senator, who also served as a West Virginia governor, pointed out that that scathing criticism from either side of the political aisle is not helping America solve its problems.

"Right, wrong or indifferent, whether you like the politicians, or not. There's people who don’t like the extreme Democrat politics or extreme Republican politics, we got to start being Americans again," the senator said.

A spokesman for Koch Industries told Politico that Manchin's comments probably echo the sentiments of many of his colleagues in Washington, and said that "it's about time" one of them spoke out.

"My guess is that Sen. Manchin has expressed a point of view that a lot other senators — Democrats, Republicans — have probably wanted to say and haven't," spokesman Steve Lombardo said.

Manchin's defense of the Kochs, which is likely to cause some consternation from Reid, came on the day it was revealed that a new book is due out next month attacking the brothers, called "Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty."

Written by liberal author Daniel Schulman, a senior editor at the Mother Jones website, the biography purportedly tells how the Kochs "devised an ambitious, decades-long strategy to catapult their Libertarian-tinged ideology upon the nation."

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