February 25, 2017
Sen. Joe Manchin reminded supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders in West Virginia that the former presidential candidate is not a Democrat, according to a report.
During a 15-minute phone conversation the Democrat lawmaker spoke with Sanders supporters, who he challenged to devise a primary challenge to his candidacy.
At one point, Manchin and the Sanders supporters reached a disagreement, which, according to Politico, prompted the senator to say: “What you ought to do is vote me out. Vote me out! I’m not changing. Find somebody else who can beat me and vote me out.”
Asked if that statement was an “invitation or a threat,” Manchin confirmed it was an invitation and asked the person if he is a “Bernie Sanders guy.”
After some back-and-forth about the relevancy of the question, the voter said: “I stand with West Virginians who voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary, in all 55 counties where he won.”
“Bernie Sanders is not even a Democrat,” Manchin shot back.
Sanders is an independent senator from Vermont, but caucuses with the Democrats and ran for the party’s presidential nomination in a close contest against Hillary Clinton, who ended up winning.
A spokesperson later told Politico that Manchin stands by his remark about Sanders’ party.
“Sen. Manchin is very happy to have you quote him saying Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat,” said Manchin’s communications director, Jonathan Kott.
Manchin is up for re-election in 2018 in a state that overwhelmingly went for President Trump. Though he identifies as a Democrat, Manchin is seen as one of the more moderate members of his party — so much so that told the Washington Examiner back in November that he’s asked “every day” if he might swap parties.
Speaking about the importance of party politics, Manchin told the Washington Examiner: “I am an American first. As far as the D and the R goes, well that comes way down on the list for me.”
“I am there [in the Senate] to get things done,” he added. “And I am going to get things done, but if you think Bernie is going to be preaching the mantra of who I am, well that is not me.”