Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin Seems Open to Crossover Vote for Trump's Secretary of State Pick

Joe Manchin says he has already spoken to Trump more than he has to Obama.

ByABC News
December 15, 2016, 8:30 PM
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Alex Brandon/AP Photo

— -- Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who knows secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson from his work in the state, suggested he has not ruled out a crossover vote for Tillerson on the Senate floor.

Tillerson’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin from his ExxonMobil career doesn’t bother him, Manchin said, but he does have other concerns.

“That doesn’t bother me on who he knows, as long as we can work for what’s best for our country,” Manchin, who got to know Tillerson when the CEO headed of the Boy Scouts of America and helped the organization build a new facility in West Virginia.

But Manchin said he is troubled by Tillerson’s financial interests in ExxonMobil, of which Manchin says he must divest himself before joining the government.

When asked by ABC News about Trump’s outreach to a wide swath of people, including congressional Democrats, movie stars and climate activists, Manchin noted that he has already talked to Trump more than he ever talked to President Obama.

“I’ve spoken with President-elect Trump more since he’s been elected than I did in eight years to Barack Obama,” Manchin told ABC News’ Rick Klein and Shushannah Walshe in an interview for the “Powerhouse Politics” podcast.

“Hard to believe, isn’t it?” Manchin added. “That tells you everything” in terms of Trump’s outreach to stakeholders on the Hill and elsewhere.

As for those conversations, Manchin said Trump will “usually call you himself. He doesn’t have a secretary who calls and says, ‘Hold for Mr. Trump’ or ‘Hold for the president-elect.’ You’ll be on the phone and he’ll say, ‘Hey, Joe, this is Donald.’”

Manchin, a centrist Democrat whom Trump was reportedly considering for energy secretary, also expressed frustration with the state of the Democratic Party, noting that everyone in his small mining town was a Democrat during his youth.

“The Democratic Party nationally has gone and tried to be so politically correct, so overreaching,” he said. “We used to be the party of the working man and woman, and in West Virginia, the working man and woman believes the Democratic Party out of Washington is preventing them from working.”

Manchin, 69, would like another candidate to lead the Democratic National Committee beyond the two current hopefuls, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Labor Secretary Tom Perez, saying he wants someone “from rural, working America.”

“We just can’t be doing the same old same old and thinking that change is going to come,” he said.

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