Krauthammer to Sen. Manchin: Why Aren't You a Republican?

Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 08:14 PM

By Greg Richter

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Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is known for often bucking heads with Democratic Party leadership.

On Fox News Channel's "Special Report" on Tuesday, panelist Charles Krauthammer noted that Manchin, who was sitting in as a guest, has been critical of EPA overreach in the "War on Coal" in own state as well as Obamacare and the running up of large federal deficits.

"Why don't you 'fess up and become a Republican?" Krauthammer asked.

"Well, there's still responsible Democrats around the country," Manchin responded, laughing.

"Can you name three?" Krauthammer asked. Krauthammer himself leaned left in his early career, eventually identifying himself as a conservative.

"I believe deeply in my Democratic roots, as far as a West Virginian," Manchin said, though he admitted those roots "might be a little different than the Washington Democrats."

He said he has always tried to work with both Republicans and Democrats, both in his home state where he served as governor, and in Washington. And he avoids saying anything bad about his political adversaries.

"I'm right in the middle. I'm about as centrist as you can get," Manchin said, describing himself as "fiscally conservative" and "socially compassionate."

But Manchin clearly doesn't see many of his D.C. colleagues sharing his outlook. He was asked by George Will why Republicans would agree to an immigration bill after seeing from Obamacare that President Barack Obama might wave any part or all of it if he doesn't like it.

Manchin responded, "The lack of trust and the disgust that goes on there is high on all ends."

Manchin said he agrees with Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte that the Ryan-Murray budget deal erred when it cut military retirement benefits for current retirees. But unlike her, he thinks the current bill should be passed and then Congress should fix the problem later.

A proponent of balanced budgets, Manchin said the current fiscal crisis put budget negotiators in the position of making the cuts in the first place.

"You do that because you make cowardly decisions when you have unmanaged debt," he said.

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