By Peter J. Smith
CHARLESTON, West Virginia, October 11, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a significant public break with the national Democratic Party, pro-life Democrat Gov. Joe Manchin III said that while he supports reforming the health care system, he would like to see the new national health care law either fixed, or failing that, repealed.
Manchin is trailing behind pro-life Republican John Raese in West Virginia’s U.S. Senate race. He is trying to distance himself from the policies of President Barack Obama and national Democrats, especially on health care, which are very unpopular in this socially conservative Democrat state.
According to Rasmussen Reports, its latest poll of 750 likely voters shows Raese ahead of Manchin by six points: 50 percent to 44 percent. Just last month, the tables were flipped, and Raese was trailing Manchin by a similar percentage spread.
“The president's plan – 'Obamacare,' as it's been called – is far too reaching. It's overreaching. It needs to have a lot of it repealed. If you can't fix that, repeal the whole thing,” Manchin said Monday morning on Fox News “Fox and Friends” program.
A Fox News opinion poll of 1000 likely voters in West Virginia indicated that the race is more a referendum on President Obama than Manchin, who has a 66 percent approval rating. Manchin did not really challenge that analysis, but expressed some confidence that the race would come down to which candidate will best represent the interest of the state’s voters.
Nationally, 55 percent of voters support repeal of the national health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, while just 39 percent say they want to keep it, according to Rasmussen.
Voters also said they trusted Republicans more than Democrats to reform health care, 48 percent to 40 percent.
Political antipathy toward Obama’s signature legislation is high in West Virginia, and Manchin has had trouble distancing himself from that legacy, as earlier this year he made statements supporting the legislation.
At a March 15, 2010 panel discussion for the National Governors Association in Washington, Manchin said that if he were a House member faced with the choice of voting up or down on the Senate version of the Affordable Care Act, he would vote in favor. (watch video)
“I'd be for it,” Manchin said. “You have to move this ball forward. … I have never, since I've been in the legislative process, and since I have been governor, I have never got a perfect bill.”
“You need to praise this president and this administration for sticking with this bill as long as they have,” he added.
Manchin made these remarks even before pro-life U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) wrung from the president an executive order deal that would place restrictions on federal funding of abortion not included in the Senate bill.
The bill passed the House with pro-life Democrats narrowly divided. Twenty-three Democrats with complete or partial pro-life voting records scored by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) voted against the bill. Twenty pro-life Democrats, including Stupak, voted to approve the bill on March 21 with the promise of Obama’s executive order.
However Manchin is now calling for a partial repeal of Obama’s signature legislation, including abortion-related provisions deemed problematic by NRLC. On a candidate survey for West Virginians for Life, an NRLC affiliate, Manchin said he would vote for full repeal of the bill if there was no way pro-abortion provisions could be entirely removed from the health care law.
West Virginians For Life told LifeSiteNews.com that NRLC had spoken to Manchin about their issues with the Senate version after he made his comments at the NGA panel, and the governor indicated that he had not quite understood the extent of the problems in the 2,409-page Affordable Care Act, when he made his remarks.
Overall Manchin has an excellent pro-life record as governor of the state, and in May signed into law legislation requiring abortionists to offer women the opportunity to view an ultrasound of their unborn baby.
Both Manchin and Raese are endorsed by WVFL’s political action committee for the U.S. Senate.
See related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:
GOP Leads Democrat in Pro-Life Senate Race for West Virginia
Pro-Abortion Obama Sinks to New Low in Public Opinion Survey
AUL Action “Life Counts Campaign” Targets ObamaCare’s Pro-Life Dems
Democrats Hope Pro-Life Candidate Will be GOP Spoiler in Illinois Pro-Abort Senate Battle