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Patrick Morrisey is running on being the anti-Joe Manchin

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Patrick Morrisey, Attorney General of West Virginia, running for U.S. Senate, speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump (L) looks on at a Make America Great Again rally at the Civic Center in Charleston, West Virginia, U.S., August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
REUTERS/Leah
Millis



  • State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is the
    Republican challenging incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin in West
    Virginia.

  • Morrisey is branding himself as the “polar opposite” of
    Manchin, who regularly touts his bipartisan work in the
    Senate.
  • President Donald Trump won the state of West Virginia by
    nearly 50 points in 2016, which Morrisey believes is his ticket
    to unseat Manchin.

CHARLESTON, West Virginia — “I’m the polar opposite of
flip-flopper Joe Manchin,” Republican Senate candidate
Patrick Morrisey told an audience of about two dozen factory
workers on Thursday.

“Literally, you should go online and see this. If you go online
you start to see the memes — of Joe Manchin holding two different
placards. Within three weeks, one saying he stands for Planned
Parenthood and the other saying he stands for life. On the issue
of life, you cannot have it both ways.”

Morrisey is running on being the anti-Joe Manchin in West
Virginia, railing against the incumbent Democrat senator’s record
of bipartisanship and often contentious voting choices. But
Manchin is using that bipartisan aura to get him across the
finish line in one of the hottest Senate races of the 2018
midterm elections.

For Morrisey, who for much of his career as state attorney
general made a name for himself by suing and combatting the Obama
administration, the race is about unseating a man he wants to
paint as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s puppet.

Though Manchin votes in line with President Donald Trump’s
policies more often than he does with Democrats (60.8% according
to
tracking by FiveThirtyEight
), Morrisey says it is an effort
to obstruct and “empower impeachment.”

Morrisey made it clear, through campaign stops and in an
interview with Business Insider, that he is not like Manchin.
Decisions won’t be up in the air until the final minutes of
crucial votes, many topics will be non-negotiable, and perhaps
most importantly for Morrisey, he has Trump’s stamp of
approval.

“I think people are enthusiastic. They’re fired up,” he
told Business Insider. “Because the stakes of this election are
very high. West Virginia is at a critical juncture for control of
the US Senate. Win in West Virginia, and we can put an end to
this talk about having impeachment, obstruction,
resistance.”

Trump won West Virginia in 2016 by nearly 68 points,
compared to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s
abysmal 26. Morrisey and his supporters are counting on that to
put him over the top. But that challenge has proven more
difficult compared to other competitive races where Democrats are
up for re-election in conservative-leaning states.


Manchin is banking on the appeal of
bipartisanship


However you frame it, Manchin has a well-known reputation
in Washington and nationally as one of the least liberal or most
conservative Democrats in the Senate. He voted for both of
Trump’s Supreme Court nominees, but against the tax cuts. Pick an
issue and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where he voted without
looking it up.

“The people know who I am and I sure know West Virginia
because I am West Virginia,” Manchin told Business Insider. “I
think that’s the difference.”

On Wednesday, Manchin published four separate op-eds
co-bylined with Republican senators across several West Virginia
newspapers. Sens.
Susan Collins
of Maine,
Lisa Murkowski
of Alaska,
Johnny Isakson
of Georgia, and
Marco Rubio
of Florida all touted bipartisan work on key
issues like health care and energy.

Having members of the opposite party go to bat for you in
the final stretch of a campaign is support you can’t buy and
praise you can only earn, Manchin said.

“I’ve never campaigned against a Republican in the center,
I’ve never given money to a Democrat that’s running against a
Republican in the Senate for incumbents,” he said. “I don’t think
it should be done. I used to hear that’s the way it was done
before. It’s an unwritten rule — you don’t do that.”

But Morrisey sees that as a problem. He knows he’s the
right winger in the race and hopes everyone else in West Virginia
takes notice.

“Everyone who follows the race knows I’m the conservative
fire who’s going to advance the Trump jobs agenda and Joe
Manchin’s a dishonest Washington liberal, who’s going to empower
the impeach, obstruct, and resist circus in DC,” Morrisey told
Business Insider. “And the more people see that, through the ads,
through the appearances, then we’re going to allow us to come out
on top.”

“Whether we’re talking about the Trump tax cuts, the
deregulating, and the Trump judges, there’s so much good that’s
being done right now we can’t go back,” he added.

Manchin said he “
could understand that Patrick
Morrisey would be envious” of his support from Republicans.
“Because that’s not who he is.”

In agreement with Morrisey on how bipartisanship can be an
obstacle to the Republican agenda is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who
hit the campaign trail in West Virginia in an attempt to bolster
enthusiasm for unseating Manchin.

“Here’s the thing, the other senator, the one you’ve got
now, says, ‘Oh I’m bipartisan! I’m for both sides!'” Paul said of
Manchin. “Well he’s for all the bad ideas that come from both
sides.”

But Manchin laughed off support from Paul, saying,
“t

hat helps me.”

“I’m glad Rand came here because I don’t think Rand’s that
popular in West Virginia or in that part of Kentucky,” he
said.

The calvary is coming in for Morrisey in the final two and
a half weeks until Election Day. Vice President Mike Pence is
stumping for Morrisey on Saturday, with personalities like Donald
Trump Jr. to follow on Monday.

“Mike Pence, I know Mike Pence and he’s just — I guess
— doing his job,” Manchin said. “Well he’s a junkyard dog right
now I guess. He has to go out and do it. And then they send
Donald [Trump] Jr. God bless you, come on in.”

“I’d rather have Jerry West. I’d rather have Bob Huggins. I’d
rather have Nick Saban,” Manchin said in reference to a recent ad
touting support from the sports legends. “I’ll take those three
over those three any day.”

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