WV Senate candidates on the issues: presidential relationship

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- The president isn’t on this November’s ballot, and doesn’t get a vote, but he’s made his choice clear and could be a key factor in who voters choose to be their next senator.

“A vote for Patrick Morrisey is truly a vote to make America great again,” President Donald Trump said recently at a campaign rally in West Virginia.

Morrisey is embracing the endorsement. The republican challenger to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) features it in his ads and as a major selling point for his campaign.

“This president has done really good things for West Virginia,” Morrisey said in an extensive one-on-one interview. Morrisey touts the president’s efforts to roll-back regulations, nominations of what he calls rule-of-law jurists, and 2017’s tax cuts.

We asked if there’s any piece of the president’s agenda he couldn’t get behind – big or small. “Look, I like to emphasize the areas where I have agreement,” he said opting not to outline a policy difference, “and I think it’s important, I’m not one of these guys who falls prey to the gotcha politics.”

At his rallies in West Virgnia, President Donald criticized Manchin, declaring, ”Joe’s just not voting with us.”

Manchin does vote with the president 61 percent of the time according to data compiled by FiveThirtyEight.com. That’s more often than anyone else on the left, but less often than any of the republicans.

“He wants someone with him 100 percent of the time,” said Manchin when asked about the criticism from the president, “I don’t agree with my wife 100 percent of the time.”

When it comes to headline grabbing issues -- Manchin broke ranks with his party to confirm Justice Neal Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. But, he voted against the GOP’s tax reform bill and its effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act; he argues neither broadly serves the interests of West Virginia.

“I want to work with the president,” Manchin said, “I just don’t work for him. I work for West Virginia.”

Separate from working with the president, given the ongoing investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, we asked both candidates whether a sitting president can be charged, or pardon himself.

“I believe this has been a witch hunt, and there’s been no collusion,” said Morrisey of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. “As a prosecutor, I’m someone who’s sensitive to allegations and things that are thrown out there,” he continued, “and I don’t want to spend time going to hypotheticals that are very likely to never see the light of day.”

“I don’t believe that any human being is above the law,” said Manchin. “When you see Madam Justice holding the scales of justice, make sure she’s not peeking out,” he added, “make sure that the blindfold is good and tight. That she can’t tell if it’s me or you, or the poor person who’s homeless under the bridge, or whether it’s a governor, a president, a senator or congressman.”

Prosecutors filed charges against at least 34 people as a result of the independent counsel’s investigation.

To hear more from the candidates, check out the video links above. Other stories from our series examining the candidates’ positions on guns, health care, drug addiction, and the state’s energy future can be found in the related stories tab.

Read the original version of this article at www.graydc.com.