WHEELING - U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin advises voters to be wary of candidates who promise to always vote their party's politics.
And Manchin said if you see any politician signing a pledge promising not to do something, "You better be looking for another candidate.
"If that person locks himself in that tight, you've got a problem," he said. "And that's what we're finding in Washington - on both sides, left and right. And it doesn't need to be."
Photo by Scott McCloskey
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., takes a few minutes to talk with guests at a luncheon sponsored by the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce. Manchin, second from left, talks with Terry Sterling, president of the chamber of commerce, John Karras of Wheeling and Weirton Mayor George Kondik.
Manchin, D-W.Va., was the keynote speaker on Aug. 16 for a luncheon hosted by the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce at River City Ale Works in downtown Wheeling.
In his remarks, he attributed Washington's problems to lawmakers' inability to compromise amid party pressures.
"We don't have a red problem or a blue problem - we have a red, white and blue problem," Manchin said. "I don't care if you're on the left or the right. You better come together in the middle and make this thing work.
"That's where I'm going. I spend most of my time trying to get people to talk in the middle, and building relationships. You build a relationship, you can fix a problem," he said.
"I never thought - never ever anticipated - it would be as dysfunctional as I've seen it be," he said of Washington. "When I say that, I'm doing it in the most respectful way. But how have we grown apart that far? How have we put our personal politics and our party politics ahead of the country? I've never seen that.
"We all enjoy our politics ... but there was never a time in my state, West Virginia, that we couldn't sit down with everybody. We have our differences, but we found a commonality. If you can find the common denominator, you can come to the middle. You can fix it. But if you get so caught in ideology, you can't move."
And the focus of Congress should be jobs, according to Manchin.
"Everybody's talking about jobs, and it's always been about jobs," he commented. "If you've got a job in America today, you're probably concerned if you're going to keep it."
The economy has changed dramatically in recent years, he continued
"With that said, we've got more people looking for jobs," Manchin noted. "And we've got people who don't want to work - to put it bluntly."
Manchin discussed how the nation could be re-energized.
He suggested reform of existing trade laws he said don't benefit Americans; making changes to existing federal tax code; and reigning in regulatory agencies he said are "running amok."
Republican members of Congress representing West Virginia have been especially critical of the Obama Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which many say is waging "a war" against the use of the state's coal.