Joe Manchin: Bernie Sanders Must ‘Moderate’ in General Election; ‘I’m Not Going Socialist’

In 1988, then-mayor of Burlington (Vt.) Bernie Sanders traveled to the Soviet Union to establish a “sister city” relationship with the city of Yaroslavl. | Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is warning that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will have to “moderate” if he continues to maintain his frontrunner status in the Democrat primary, the West Virginia lawmaker emphasizing that he is “not going socialist.”

Sanders’ successes in both Iowa and New Hampshire, combined with Joe Biden’s (D) poor performances, have several lawmakers increasingly considering the possibility of Vermont’s socialist senator winning the Democrat nomination.

Manchin, long viewed as a more “moderate” Democrat, said Sanders will have to shift more to the center and dial back his far-left positions if he continues to lead the Democrat field. He said a “dilemma” will ensue if Sanders refuses, because he, Manchin, will not embrace socialism.

“If Bernie ends up being one of these frontrunners, he’ll have to moderate,” Manchin said, according to Politico. “I’m not going socialist. Never been a socialist.”

“If he doesn’t change, I’ve got a dilemma there. We’ll see. But we’re talking about hypotheticals. I think there’s going to be a lot happening between now and then,” he added.

Several Democrats remain privately concerned about Sanders’ rise in the race and, particularly, how a Sanders nomination would affect the Democrats’ efforts to maintain control of the House and win a majority in the Senate.

While Manchin voted to convict President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, he is not ruling out supporting the president in the general election.

“I don’t rule anything out. I really don’t rule anything out. I’m always going to be for what’s best for my country. Everybody can change,” he said.

“Maybe the president will change, you know? Maybe that uniter will come out, versus the divider,” he added.

During an appearance on CNN’s The Lead on Monday, Manchin refused to commit to supporting Sanders over Trump in a hypothetical general election matchup. He told the network he will have to see “where we are at that time.”

“Well, you know, we’d have to see where we are at that time,” the lawmaker told Jake Tapper. “Sanders, I can tell you one thing, he’s got a good heart, and he wants to do the right thing.”

“His solution for fixing it might not be palatable, might not be something doable. I’ll have to see. Who knows? Bernie might change and moderate just a little bit from now to then,” he added:

Pete Buttigieg (D) and Sanders currently lead in delegate totals — 22 and 21, respectively — with two states under their belts. All eyes are on Nevada’s February 22 caucuses. Senior Sanders adviser, Chuck Rocha, is urging the public to “pay attention” to the state’s election, telling Hill.TV’s Rising, “I’ve got some tricks in my little bag of tricks that you haven’t seen yet.”

Thursday’s RealClearPolitics polling average showed Sanders leading the field with 23.6 percent support, giving him a 4.4 percent advantage over Biden.


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