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Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) gave a rather shocking performance in these polarized times — giving a joint interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” show.
The two have been known for bucking the party line, but there’s no denying that Manchin has been stealing the limelight lately due to his resistance to the “Build Back Better” bill, which was supposed to be President Joe Biden’s keynote piece of legislation for his presidential legacy. This has earned Manchin the ire and revulsion of the left, and especially the “squad” of radical left Democrats in the House of Representatives who have continually poured scorn on the senator, reviling him as a “traitor” to the party.
Manchin has resolutely refused to heed them, however, and firmly stood by his position: “I’m not a Washington Democrat, I’m a good old West Virginia Democrat. Never forget where you came from, never forget your purpose for being here. I’m an American before I’m anything.”
While Manchin has faced the furious ire of the left, Murkowski is dealing with a primary challenge from a candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump, widely seen as retaliation for being one of seven Republican senators to vote to convict Trump in the wake of his second impeachment trial in early 2021 — which fell short by ten votes of the constitutionally-mandated 2/3rds majority needed for conviction.
Though there have been calls for a left-wing challenger in the primaries against Manchin — as well as Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who was not present — Manchin insisted that neither he nor Murkowski was feeling the heat very much and that neither Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) nor Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) felt they had sufficient political capital to expend on supporting primary challenges against the two.
“No way shape or form, will Mitch McConnell or Chuck Schumer not support [the various challenger’s] caucus. It’s just not going to happen. I don’t put any stock in that,” Manchin stated.
The two then took the step of endorsing each other in their respective Senate races, a rarity to begin with, but especially in the current climate:
“I’m endorsing my dear friend Lisa Murkowski. Alaska could only be so lucky to have her continue to serve them,” says Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s bid for reelection. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/k9dI6XNwci
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 6, 2022
“I think sometimes when the going gets tough, we just say, ‘that’s too hard,’ and we retreat to the party messages. But I think there was a recognition that… the country needed a step towards healing.” – GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/PwKjy168EU
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 6, 2022
While this certainly didn’t help his position in the eyes of his critics, Manchin brushed them off as excessively partisan, saying, “It’s hypocritical to basically work with a person day-in, day-out, and then when they’re in cycle, you’re supposed to be against them because they have an R or a D by their name. If these are good people I’ve worked with, had accomplished a lot, why in the world wouldn’t I want to work with them and continue to work with them?”
Murkowski agreed, lamenting that “There used to be a time when we did that.”
The two celebrated their passage of the watered-down $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which did pass after the two carefully leveraged their votes to get changes made to the original bill, and vowed to continue trying to reform the Electoral Count Act. Manchin faulted what he called “ambiguity” in the 1887 law which outlines how electoral votes in a presidential race are counted as the spark that helped fuel the capitol riots of January 6th, 2021.
While each senator may be viewed with contempt and derision by the more frothing, partisan members of their respective parties, the interview seemed to be a clear signal that neither had the slightest intention of changing course.
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