Senator Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) on Sunday said he doesn’t know of any Democrat who would ever defund the police and said the party had been unfairly tagged with the slogan. Manchin made the claim despite multiple examples of prominent Democrats advocating precisely such a policy.
When asked by Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press why Joe Biden outperformed the Democratic party in the election, Manchin responded that the party had “been identified as something we’re not.”
“I’m a West Virginia Democrat, a proud West Virginia Democrat, and I don’t know of any Democrat that I know of that would ever defund the police and how that got on as a mantra that that’s a Democrat slogan, that’s not true,” he said. “And how all these other things that seem to be extremes are not true it’s not who we are but we were tagged with that.”
“We were slow probably as a party at responding to it and saying, ‘Listen, there’s more to us if you look at basically our bedrock of who we are.’”
Todd asked Manchin about his previous comment that Democrats should have been in the majority in the last three elections.
“Well it tells you is the message we have is not for all Americans,” he said. “Basically, who are we as a party — if you’re a Democrat, why are you a Democrat?”
“Do you have to be labeled as a Democrat? Do you want to give everything away without any accountability? It’s not who I am, it’s not the Democrats I was raised with and that’s basically what we have lost,” Manchin said, explaining that he is “fiscally responsible and socially compassionate” and the two attributes do not have to be mutually exclusive.
“We basically will fight for workers’ rights, human rights, but still do so in a reasonable way that doesn’t put so much burden on people and say, ‘Listen unless I’m in a minority, unless I’m this, you’re giving more attention,'” he added.
He continued: “We’re not, we’re trying to bring everybody together with the same opportunities, we’re not basically explaining that in a way that the average American understands and we’re allowing other people to tag us and that’s just unfair.”
Manchin has been feuding with progressive Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) for nearly a month after he criticized calls to defund the police, saying, “Defund, my butt.”
Ocasio-Cortez responded by sharing a photo of herself glaring at Manchin when he applauded President Trump’s second State of the Union address.
After Democrats lost an unexpected number of House seats in last month’s election, moderate Democrats criticized the party’s progressive members, saying the “defund the police” movement and their embrace of socialism had hurt the party.
Representative Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.), warned fellow Democrats during a conference call that “we will get f***ing torn apart again in 2022” if Democrats continue to push a radical left agenda.
Last week former President Barack Obama criticized the phrase “defund the police” as a “snappy slogan” that led Democrats to alienate a large swathe of centrist voters.
Members of the progressive “squad” in Congress, of which Ocasio-Cortez is a part, pushed back.
Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) defended the phrase, saying in a tweet, “We lose people in the hands of police. It’s not a slogan but a policy demand.”
“Centering the demand for equitable investments and budgets for communities across the country gets us progress and safety,” Omar added.