Sen. Manchin: West Virginians don't look at me as Democrat

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 9, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, well, so much for talk that Gina Haspel would have a tough time finding any Democratic senator to support her.

Enter Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has already indicated he will.

He joins me right now.

And very good to have you, Senator. Thank you.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN, D-WEST VIRGINIA: Neil, it's good to be with you.

CAVUTO: You said yea to her. Why?

MANCHIN: Well, let me tell you.

I have met with her twice personally. And we went in lot of in-depth conversations. And then, Neil, she's been an open -- an open hearing, which you saw on television today. And then we went in closed, the very closed high-profile meeting.

She answered every question. This lady is the real deal. I'm telling you, we hit her with everything we possibly could. She answered, didn't flinch at all.

She has had 33 years of experience. There's nobody else that comes to this job prepared like she's prepared. So I have said, hey, a person that can be a role model of how you should run your intelligence agency, a person who has respect for everybody out in the field because she's been there.

Put her in the toughest spot, she has survived. She's done everything she can to protect the United States of America and keep us as safe as we possibly can.

And I just feel very comfortable with her. And I encourage all my colleagues to sincerely vote for this lady, because she is the best.

CAVUTO: Senator, how disappointed are you that Don Blankenship is not your Republican challenger?


MANCHIN: Let me just say. I want to be very clear on this, Neil.

There was only one truly conservative Republican West Virginian in the race, and that was Don Blankenship. We have had our differences on many issues.

But Don -- you cannot question Don's conservatism and also him being a Republican in West Virginia. He's the only one.

So, with that being said, I kind of handicapped this race. I thought it would be Patrick Morrisey, for this reason. He's run two times. He is known in 55 counties. So, he had a little bit more exposure than what Evan.

Evan and I have worked together for 20 years. We have been in the same party. He's a very conservative Democrat at that time. He had become a committed Republican. I respect that.

And -- but I just thought Morrisey would -- at the end of the day, he would come out on top.

CAVUTO: And, indeed, he has, the West Virginia attorney general.

But let me ask you something about what you were mentioning what about Mr. Blankenship. And he has actually said some positive things about you. And he has not indicated that he's remotely willing to support Mr. Morrisey.

So it does beg a question, is he throwing his support behind you, or have you and he talked about it?


MANCHIN: No. We have had no conversations whatsoever. No.

Don -- and, like I said, we have had our differences. But you cannot questions Don's West Virginia Republican conservative roots. And we have been head to head down on many issues. I just -- with the horrible tragedies we have had, it's just -- my heart still aches for all the families.

And I think you know how close I have been to the families. But on other issues on that, we have had our differences, and there have been some things we have agreed on politically. So, no, we have not talked. And I haven't had any phone calls from Don.

CAVUTO: If he were to come out -- we should remind people he's the former Massey Energy CEO who spent a year in prison for willfully violating safety standards. We know the story there, that killed 29 miners back then.

But would -- would you want his support, if he announced it to West Virginia tomorrow, I'm supporting Joe Manchin?

MANCHIN: I have no control over that whatsoever.


MANCHIN: And I would say Don has to make his decision, what he's comfortable with.

The only thing I have said about this, I hope that, in time, Don -- the good lord lets Don find peace in his heart, because these people need to move on with their lives. That's all I have ever said.

And I hope that happens. I hope Don finds peace in his life and allows these families to find peace in theirs.

CAVUTO: You were considered on very lists either the most or certainly one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection in the Senate.

MANCHIN: I disagree, Neil. I disagree.

CAVUTO: Well, who would be more? Sherrod Brown in Ohio, or what?

MANCHIN: Well, first of all, no.

I say, no, no, I'm telling you this. The reason I disagree is this. I have been down this road before. In 2012, when Barack Obama got beat by Mitt Romney in West Virginia by 35 points, I won reelection by 25 points.

That's a 60-point swing. It's unheard of. So the bottom line is, they don't look at me as a Democrat. They look at me as a West Virginian.

CAVUTO: Well, what happened between you and Donald Trump? For a while, you were his favorite Democrat. I guess, when you voted no on the tax thing, maybe you were persona non grata. What happened?

MANCHIN: Well, hold on. No, no. And we get along fine.

We just have a difference there. Two things. Health care. If I know you can fix something and repair it, I'm not going to throw 200,000 West Virginians off. I'm going to work to fix that. And that's all I'm doing.

I know we have a fix in right now, if we could just get it and vote on it. We had 12 D's in 12 R's led by Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray. That's why I thought there was a better way to do it.

CAVUTO: Well, famously, John McCain nixed their rework on that. The president's never gotten over that.

You have probably heard that John McCain has some rather pointed remarks to make about the president, down to the point where he doesn't even want him at his funeral.

What do you think of all that?

MANCHIN: I'm not -- I'm not going to get into that whatsoever.

I will say this about the tax bill. The president knows I'm for tax cuts. I'm for tax relief. In West Virginia, I did more than any governor. I privatized workers comp. I changed the tax...

CAVUTO: Well, why didn't you vote for this package?

MANCHIN: Basically, we went to 21 percent, and I thought 25 was more than sufficient, a permanent 25. We went an extra $4000 billion more than we should have.

It should have been permanent for the people on the end of the...


CAVUTO: So, if they have another tax measure, a second phase of it, where they talked about making the individual rates permanent, would you back that?

MANCHIN: I'm going to be there to fix it.

CAVUTO: Would you back that?

MANCHIN: I am definitely. I'm going to be there to fix things. I have watched on both sides, both parties...


CAVUTO: So, you would back that? Senator, I just want to be clear here. They have a phase two, where they want to make permanent the tax cuts for individuals. You would back that?

MANCHIN: I absolutely would.

But would we have to look at the fiscal responsibilities. For some reason, we're throwing caution to the wind. When I was governor, we balanced every budget and had surpluses and built up a billion-dollar rainy day fund.


CAVUTO: Anyone in your party, just like anyone in the Republican Party, shouldn't talk about fiscal stewardship here, right? You have both been disasters, right?


MANCHIN: You're absolutely correct. Both sides are at fault.

But, pretty soon, someone ought to kiss their kids at night and forgive daddy and mommy, for they don't know what they do.

CAVUTO: So, when the president is looking at shaving $15 billion in spending, recision cuts, in that $1.3 trillion measure, what did you think of that?

MANCHIN: I'm happy to look at anything.

But when you start cutting the most vulnerable and programs for the most vulnerable, let's look and see. Let's look and see what programs and where we have most of the growth in that. It hasn't been in some of the program I'm hearing about.

I haven't seen anything on paper. I'm willing to look at anything that puts our financial house in order. But, also, you based your -- your priorities should be based on your values. If you can't take care of your children, your seniors and your veterans, God help us.

CAVUTO: All right.

Senator, always good having you. Thank you, sir, for taking the time.

MANCHIN: Always good to be with you, Neil.

CAVUTO: Congratulations on your victory last night.

MANCHIN: Thank you. Thank you very much.

CAVUTO: All right, Senator Joe Manchin.

And he did surprise folks back in 2012. Anyone's guess what happens now in 2018, but all bets are off on this entire election.

We did reach out to his opponent. And hope springs eternal we will get his Republican opponent to come on. We always try, because we feel you're due that.


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