FOLLANSBEE - U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said those who would lump him together with President Barack Obama and other high-ranking Democrats in Washington have not followed his track record.
"I'm not a Washington Democrat. I'm a proud West Virginia Democrat," Manchin said during a campaign stop Tuesday at Vito's 2, a Follansbee restaurant where he spoke with local officials and community members.
Manchin, who also is slated to speak to the Rotary Club of Weirton today, said he's never alligned himself with Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as some negative election ads have alleged.
CAMPAIGN STOP — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., far right, talked with, clockwise from left, Tony Paesano, president of the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce; Weirton Mayor George Kondik, Beech Bottom Mayor George Lewis and Lewis’ wife, Judy, as well as many others during a campaign stop at Vito’s 2 in Follansbee Tuesday. -- Warren Scott
He said he has had extreme differences with the president and his administration, noting he filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for engaging in what he describes as a war on coal.
He said the EPA unfairly holds coal industries in Appalachia to a higher standard than others. He noted that opinion was supported by a federal judge and said he believes it will be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Manchin said despite such differences, Democrats and Republicans must work together to address the federal deficit and declining economy.
He acknowledged many people are critical of the federal government because it has accumulated a trillion-dollar deficit.
"They should be upset," said Manchin, who said he will urge Congress to follow recommendations made by the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, also known as the Simpon-Bowles panel.
He said he also will apply his own experience as governor working with the West Virginia Legislature to balance the state's budget at a time when many states were in deficit.
"We did it in West Virginia and we can do it in Washington," he said.
Manchin said slashing federal agencies and programs isn't the answer, though he has pushed for a balanced budget amendment.
"You can't cut enough expenses alone to fix it," Manchin said.
He said Congress doesn't need to raise taxes but does need to collect those that are owed while eliminating loopholes for corporations, particularly those that send jobs overseas.
Manchin said, "Medicare needs to be more efficiently run, but we don't need a voucher system."
He said more responsible spending at the federal level will boost confidence in the marketplace.
"When we put our financial house in order, people will invest in the economy," Manchin said.
Returning to the issue of natural resources, Manchin said the U.S. needs to rely on its own diverse range of energy sources and not on foreign oil, which he said has caused the country to enter into "senseless and costly wars."
Manchin said he will push for an energy audit for each state to determine how much each relies on foreign oil and how that can be corrected.
"We should do everything possible to be energy-independent," he said.
(Scott can be contacted at email@example.com)