During a visit to Lewisburg, West Virginia, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a speech which criticized Democrat Senator Joe Manchin for his vote against the GOP tax plan. The speech went over quite well, considering President Donald Trump enjoys considerable popularity in the state. (In fact, a Gallup poll found this week that it’s his best state, with a 61 percent approval rating.)
Given that a majority of West Virginians support the president, and that Manchin is up for a reelection this year, Pence's criticisms were expertly timed. You can read his complete remarks via The White House's official website, and his specific remarks against Manchin are highlighted below:
Now, let me take a moment here just to make sure you give credit where credit is due on this. I want to thank your leaders in Congress — Congressman McKinley, Congressman Jenkins, and Senator Capito. They stood with President Trump. They voted for this tax cut. They put West Virginia families first.
The truth is, they voted to give West Virginia workers a raise. But the same can’t be said of your other Senator. People of the Mountain State, you deserve to know, when it came to cutting your taxes, Joe voted no.
You know, I was here just a few months ago. I spoke at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Senator Manchin was there. I looked him in the eye and I told him — I said “Joe, the people of the Mountain State are counting on you.” And I said, “Let’s get this tax cut done together.” But Joe voted no. Joe voted no to give working families more of your hard-earned money. Joe voted no on tax cuts for job creators.
And on expanding the Child Tax Credit, giving you your first $24,000 in income tax-free — real breaks for families in West Virginia — Joe voted no.
But it’s not just the tax cut. Senator Joe Manchin has voted no time and again on the policies that West Virginia needs. When the time came to repeal and replace the disaster of Obamacare, Joe voted no. When we empowered West Virginia to defund Planned Parenthood, Joe voted no. And when it comes to that wall that we’re going to build on the southern border, Joe said, quote, “Well, I’m not voting for the wall, either.”
Folks, Joe’s just going to keep voting against West Virginia. Now that might make Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi pretty happy, but West Virginia needs to let him know you expect better from Joe. You need to let Joe know that West Virginia deserves better in Washington, DC.
But you can be assured, President Trump and I are going to keep fighting. We’re going to keep fighting for the men and women of West Virginia and all across this country. And we’ll always put your interests first.
Pence even shared some of his criticisms on Twitter.
Manchin soon took to his personal Twitter account to fire back criticisms of his own. “The VP’s comments are exactly why Washington Sucks," he wrote, in part.
Senator Manchin further accused the vice president of launching unwarranted partisan attacks which have only served to divide West Virginians. "My record speaks for itself," he wrote.
He ended his response with a call for Pence to "show better leadership qualities."
The GOP tax bill isn't "exactly tailored to the needs of the state," notes The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky (a West Virginian in his own right), who points to West Virginia's high rates of uninsured people and "a raging drug crisis and all kinds of bleak health care indicia." He also notes that while Manchin did, in fact, vote to cut Planned Parenthood's funding in 2015 after a "heavily edited" video featuring the PPFA person speaking "cavalierly" about fetal organs made the rounds, Manchin voted against a Republican funding bill following an investigation which found that Planned Parenthood was not involved in any nefarious activities.
Manchin is one of the few Congressional Democrats to enjoy a cordial relationship with President Trump. He was spotted giving the president several standing ovations during Tuesday night's State of the Union address.