Sen. Joe Manchin is defending his boycott of a Democratic caucus meeting with the president to discuss Obamacare – deciding instead to meet with Vice President-elect Mike Pence to build a political bridge on the contentious issue.
In an interview Wednesday on Fox News' "Your World With Neil Cavuto," the West Virginia Democrat condemned starting the new Congress "in this most partisan way."
"We had the existing outgoing president coming up speaking on the Democrats today," he said. "We have the newly elected vice president coming in speaking to the Republicans. I said, 'you know, we have to start this dialogue and build some type of relationships.'"
About his conversation with Pence, Manchin said he told him it is "my job . . . to find eight or 10 or 12 moderate Democrats and working with moderate Republicans and find a pathway forward" to "fix and repair" Obamacare.
He also said he would meet with President-elect Donald Trump, and "we have a good relationship."
"We can build on a personal relationship, too, which I think will be very healthy," he said. "That's how this place used to help."
Manchin said he has been arguing to Republicans, "learn from the mistake the Democrats made in 2009," when Obamacare was passed with no Republican votes.
"Now you're going to repeal without a Democrat vote," he said. "Don't you think you can find the bad parts that we don't like, the things that have caused problems with people in our everyday lives and fix that before you repeal it?" he said.
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