If GOP health care talks collapse, the moderates are ready to move in.
“I would like to say there will be a centrist movement,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., “which is really where things used to get done.”
But Manchin has been left waiting by the phone when it comes to health care. In an interview for ABC News’ Powerhouse Politics podcast, Manchin told ABC Political Director Rick Klein and Chief White House Correspondent Jon Karl that even as “probably the most centrist Democrat we have here in the Senate,” neither the White House or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reached out to him to work on the issue.
When Manchin spoke with President Trump before the House vote on health care, he said he advised the president to work towards repairing the Affordable Care Act, rather than completely repealing it.
“I said, I’d be happy to help you with health care. I said, Mr. President, how I can help is to give you the recommendation not to repeal, and let’s start basically fixing what we know needs to be repaired.”
Manchin does not support the Republican bill now awaiting vote in the Senate. “You can’t start talking about meaningful change when you start out with $600 billion of cuts,” he said.
Manchin went on to say that the bill “is a big, deep cut to Medicaid, no matter what they say.” In West Virginia, Manchin’s home state, he says there is not a health care provider “that is not scared out of their bejesus right now of what’s going to happen and how they’re going to provide services,” specifically services related to opioid addiction and mental illness.
Manchin is also a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and familiar with the Russia investigation.
When asked if he had seen any evidence pointing to collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign, Manchin said he had not seen evidence tying them “directly to the president.” As for the Trump campaign, “that’s a big question mark right now.”
“It’s not a witch hunt. I will not partake in a witch hunt. I’ve seen a witch hunt. Benghazi was a witch hunt,” he said.
As for Trump’s tweet Thursday morning targeting “Morning Joe” host Mika Brzezinski, Manchin said “I wasn’t raised that way ... West Virginians, we still have some civility.
"You can’t excuse it,” he said.
Sanders said conservative billionaire Charles Koch is a “very very intelligent man” whose “vision is unparalleled.”
“I think they want to really help this country in all facets, and that's not a game, that’s real,” he said of the Koch organization.
He followed up by admitting he understands he will be associated with a political cause: “I think both of us have been shot at, but we have bulletproof vests and don’t care.”