(TheConservativeNews.org) – Joe Manchin was asked by Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” host Maria Bartiromo if he will run for president or re-election to the Senate. She also asked if he would be running as a Democrat. He took a pass on those questions, though, and instead delivered his current default answer to those questions – “I identify as an American. I’m an American through and through.”
That’s all well and good but no one is questioning whether or not Joe Manchin is an American. There are questions about Manchin’s political future and it’s of his own making. He deliberately plays coy when asked about his plans for the near future. He now says he was just joking last week during a radio interview when he said he is not running for president. Then when Bartiromo asked if he would run for re-election as a Democrat, he refused to say. He’s been playing up his independent streak, especially since he is the only statewide elected Democrat in West Virginia and he is facing re-election. He has to pretend he isn’t another sure vote for the Biden agenda.
Manchin and his fellow centrist partner, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, refused to support Biden’s “Build Back Better” social-spending plans but they did support a smaller version. It was called the Inflation Reduction Act and has nothing to do with inflation. It was a big-spending climate agenda bill. Manchin was conned into supporting it when Chuck Schumer told him a separate bill that Manchin demanded to be included would be. It was written to speed up energy permitting that is stalled in Congress. Schumer didn’t include Manchin’s bill, though, and now he has to answer questions about being taken for a fool by Schumer.
In the Fox News interview, Mr. Manchin defended votes that helped the party pass some of its top legislative priorities in the last Congress. He said he didn’t regret voting last summer for the Inflation Reduction Act, calling it “the most transformative bill” passed since he has been a lawmaker.
Manchin has been in politics for forty years. Why in the world he would believe anything Chuck Schumer promises in exchange for a vote is beyond me.
Manchin is not in a rush to admit he’s still a Democrat because he is looking for leverage. He knows he will face a tough re-election race in West Virginia. Republicans are salivating at the prospect of knocking Manchin off and gaining a Republican seat in West Virginia.
Mr. Manchin has played up his independent streak and played down his membership in the Democratic Party in recent months, while saying he is no hurry to make a decision about his party affiliation. In an interview with CNN in December, he said: “The bottom line is, I’m not changing how I vote. I’m not changing how I approach a problem,” adding; “I’m on one team. I’m on the American team.”
Democrats and independents who caucus with them have a 51-49 majority in the Senate. With Republicans now controlling the House, Senate Democrats have focused so far this year on confirming Mr. Biden’s nominees rather than mounting major new legislative efforts.
Senator Sinema also has not said if she’s running for re-election since she became an Independent. She caucuses with the Democrats so it would put Schumer in a delicate position. Would he endorse Sinema in hopes she’ll continue to vote for Biden’s agenda? Rep. Ruben Gallego has entered the race. He’s a progressive Democrat and Schumer would have to choose a side – a moderate Independent or a progressive Democrat.