In an interview with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto on Thursday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said that he could not bring himself to support democratic socialist Bernie Sanders if he were to win the party’s nomination next summer. Asked if he would back Sanders’ agenda if he were the last man standing in the 2020 primaries, Manchin said, “Absolutely not.”
“It’s not practical where I come from,” Manchin said of Sanders’ ultra-progressive platform.
When Cavuto asked Manchin who he would vote for if Sanders were to face Trump in a 2020 general election matchup, the West Virginia Democrat said, “Well, it wouldn’t be Bernie.”
“Would you vote for Trump?” asked Cavuto.
“Let’s just say I’m going to make decisions based on what’s best for my country and my state,” Manchin replied.
Manchin acknowledged that Sanders’ agenda was thought-provoking, but he also said it was wildly out of kilter with reality.
“Bernie keeps saying ‘Medicare for All,’” he said. “I said, ‘Bernie we can’t even pay for Medicare for some.’”
Manchin’s remarks were a direct response to Sanders himself, who said in an interview with CNBC last week that he would have no trouble getting support from moderate Democrats like Manchin and Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.
“Your average politician sits around and he or she thinks, ‘Let’s see—if I do this, I’m going to have the big money interests putting 30-second ads against me,'” said Sanders. “But now, they’re going to have to think, ‘If I don’t support an agenda that works for working people, I’m going to have President Sanders coming to my state and rallying working-class people.'”
But it’s exceedingly unlikely that Manchin has anything to worry about on that front. West Virginia is Trump country, and Manchin is only holding on to his Senate seat because he’s defined himself as a Democrat who won’t board the crazy train. His entire electoral power comes from his willingness to buck the party, thumb his nose at the progressive wing, and stand in the way of the Democrats’ most foolish ideas. If a socialist ideologue like Sanders were to take control of the party, Manchin’s role would be more important than ever and his future in that West Virginia Senate seat would be secure.
Let’s put it this way: The harshest pushback on Manchin’s remarks came from Muslim activist Linda Sarsour, who snidely said the senator was only opposing Sanders “because Joe Manchin will be fine under any administration.”
“No one is ever gonna be stripping white men of any rights,” said Sarsour. “He doesn’t give a damn about the most marginalized and struggling people in America.”
That kind of rhetoric fires up the kind of people who consider Linda Sarsour a hero, but we have a feeling you would have to look high and low to find such a person in West Virginia. And frankly, if Sanders is counting on the “Sarsour crowd” to lift him to the nomination, he’s not going to have to worry about whether Joe Manchin votes for him against Trump.