Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., declared Thursday the United States is a “center-right country” on Thursday in remarks that further raised hackles on the progressive left.
“I think he can do that,” he said. “I believe in President Biden. I still do. He’s a good person. He’s here for the right reason … We have to work together. We can’t go too far left. This is not a center-left or a left country. We are a center, if anything, a little center-right country. That’s being shown, and we ought to be able to recognize that. And all my friends on the left are progressive or liberals, whatever. I said I’m not, I always say that I’m a responsible West Virginia Democrat, and I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate.”
He added he empathized with the people “on the far left and the far right,” calling them “aspirational.” Manchin, reviled on the left for not leaping on board with Biden’s Build Back Better plan, added West Virginians are “scared to death” by rising costs of basic goods like gasoline, food, and utilities.
Biden and the Democratic Party took a bruising loss this week in Virginia, when Republican Glenn Youngkin was elected governor and swept in GOP control of a state that Biden carried by 10 points over Donald Trump. The victory was seen as a rebuke of Biden’s progressive agenda amid concerns about the economy and schools.
Manchin told Fox News’ Bret Baier this week the results were a “wake-up call” and a reminder the U.S. is a divided country.
The moderate Democrat has infuriated liberals in Congress over his opposition to Biden’s ambitious spending plan and social overhaul, citing its near $2-trillion price tag and possible economic impact in a time where Americans are already grappling with inflation.
Manchin occupies a unique space in Congress, as a Democrat representing a state Trump won in landslides in 2016 and 2020. But progressives already frustrated with Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., fumed over his remarks on CNN.
“We are a center-left country where conservatives are boosted by electoral welfare,” former Harry Reid staffer Adam Jentleson tweeted.
To the chagrin of some liberal journalists, Manchin said Monday that he and other moderates remained unconvinced on Biden’s plan because its proponents had failed to explain the price.
“Simply put, I will not support a bill that is this consequential without thoroughly understanding the impact that it will have on our national debt, our economy, and most importantly, all of our American people,” Manchin said Monday.
Fox News’ Cortney O’Brien contributed to this report.