On Friday, prominent Democratic Senator Joe Manchin told the National Journal that he will “look at the options” when choosing to vote between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney this fall.
And the perplexing thing about what the West Virginia Senator said is that it doesn’t really make any sense.
Not for his party. Not even for his own political ambitions this election season.
Here’s what Manchin told the National Journal:
“I am just waiting for it to play out. I am not jumping in one way or another. I’m worried about me. I’ve said it’s not a team sport. You need to go out and work for yourself.”
What he’s trying to do: Distance himself from Obama to appease a Republican-filled electorate.
What he’s actually doing: Opening himself up to more Republican attacks in an election year.
Cue the Republican Party of West Virginia.
“I’d prefer if he didn’t vote with Obama so often,” said Chad Holland, the executive director of the West Virginia Republican Party, in a phone interview Friday afternoon.
Manchin attempted to clarify later. His campaign spokeswoman sent over a statement:
I strongly believe that every American should always be rooting for our President to do well, no matter which political party that he or she might belong to. With that being said, many West Virginians believe the last three and a half years haven’t been good for us, but we’re hopeful that they can get better. I have some real differences with both Governor Romney and the President, as I have said many times. I think there are many West Virginians like me who have deep concerns about Governor Romney understanding the challenges ordinary people face. And there are many West Virginians who believe that he’s out of touch, especially because of his plan to end Medicare as we know it and privatize Social Security.
With that being said, many West Virginians and I also have concerns about the Obama Administration when it comes to energy – coal in particular – and the need to get our financial house in order. Like all West Virginians, I will be watching very carefully as this race develops. Whoever is President, my first priority is the same – as always. I look for what’s best for West Virginia and the nation as a whole.
He’s trying to pander to everyone, but he ends up just pandering to no one.
This is not completely out of line with Manchin’s overall approach to the Senate seat he has held since 2010. Manchin measures right of most Democrats and even some Republicans on this ideological scale from GovTrack.us. But his bold statement on his election vote that still doesn’t really take a stand is the confounding part.
The Republican Party will now hammer him for votes like the one against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act last year. It’s already begun.
“He talks one way in West Virginia, but he votes a different way in Washington,” Holland said. “There’s a reason he’s referred to as ‘Dual Personalities.'”
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