POINT PLEASANT — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, III (D) arrived in Point Pleasant Friday, addressing the future of a Donald Trump Administration and the aftermath of the Barack Obama Administration, and more.
Manchin hosted a town hall meeting to meet with constituents held at the Marshall University Mid-Ohio Valley Center.
Manchin was introduced by Mason County Economic Development Authority Director John Musgrave. Musgrave had worked for Manchin when he was governor and described him as being a friend to Mason County.
Manchin got right to the elephant in the room and talked about President Elect Donald Trump and the recent election.
“We have just survived the most tumultuous election process that anyone in modern times has ever seen, ” Manchin said. “It was completely unorthodox. It does tell me one thing, people were mad. This is not politically driven, this is not driven by Democrat philosophy or Republican philosophy, this is just driven by lack of non performance and ‘I fell behind and the American dream is not achievable for me.’ And if anyone’s missed that, they’ve missed everything. You take a person like Mr. Donald Trump, our president elect and he’s going to be our president, not your president or my president, he’ll be our president. And anytime you have a president, you want him to do the best. My job is not to judge who the people send to Washington, my job is to work with the people they send me. I’ll do everything I can to work with him.”
As for how Manchin believes Trump can unite the country, he believes he can do so by first developing a “tax code we can believe in.”
Manchin said he would advise Trump to “get (the country’s) finances in order, make people believe in you first,” and then, if he chose to, go after social issues.
Manchin said he holds these town hall meetings for constituents to “tell me what I can take back” to Washington.
Manchin has recently been placed on a leadership team for Democrats.
“I’m the most centrist conservative Democrat in congress,” he said. “I’m a common sense democrat. My job is going to be to work across the aisle…to bridge the gap and try to find a pathway forward for the country.”
Manchin said Democrats are looking at ways to move forward with a Trump administration on issues where they have common ground. He used addressing “unfair trade agreements” as one of those possible issues and “reasonable” EPA regulations.
“I would hope all Democrats in Washington will look for a pathway forward, that’s a position they put me in and I’m going to try and find a pathway and if my Democrats try to object to that, I’ll be speaking out very loud and clear, if my Republican friends don’t accept it because they don’t think that Donald Trump went far right enough I would object about that too. Can we find the middle? I sure hope so, you don’t run your life from the right or the left.”
One of those residents attending the meeting said there were five living ex-presidents, saying all of them had spoken out, saying Trump was “incompetent” and “not up to the job.”
Manchin responded: “You know what, the people spoke, we might’ve voted against him but they spoke, he is our president elect now. Can we get him competent? Can we get him the support he needs to be a good president? You’ve got to try.”
Manchin added, “The pendulum swings. People don’t want the discourse. The bottom line is, I believe Donald Trump is apolitical. I don’t think he’s hardcore Republican, he’s been a Democrat. I don’t know. We’re going to find out. Just watch who he puts around him.”
Manchin also talked about the Middle East, saying “it’s not going to get any better” and that he believes America should try to prevent more “carnage” in Syria. He said if a war was to break out again, it would likely be in the South China Sea where half the world economy moves through those waters. He talked about his belief that college education should be “less expensive” not free and said the cheapest way to get the workforce going again was to make trade school costs more accessible to students. On immigration, Manchin said he didn’t think people would see “immigration squads rounding up people” but he did believe the Trump administration would go after those illegals who had criminal backgrounds and deport them. He also said the so-called “sanctuary cities” would likely not be tolerated by Trump. However, he hopes Trump develops a pathway to citizenship for those who came here for the “right reasons.”
He said America has a “target on its back” and “we’ve got to be smarter” and use technology to vet a person entering the country, including the use of DNA, as radicalization can occur in children.
After the meeting, the Point Pleasant Register spoke to Manchin, asking him to address rumors he was switching parties. When asked if he was still a Democrat, Manchin said: “Absolutely. I’m a West Virginia Democrat.”
As for the biggest misconception people have about him, Manchin said: If they don’t know me by now…I don’t conform to any one side. I really take public service seriously, you serve the public not for yourself but for them. You think I didn’t know the smart play was to be against Hillary in West Virginia? When she committed to me that she was going to do what they were going to do to help West Virginia, there’s no way I’d be against her. She didn’t win. Trump won the presidential election and I’m going to help him out in every way I can.”
More on a discussion about the affordable care act which happened at the town hall in an upcoming edition of the Point Pleasant Register.
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.