The first and only debate for the critical Virginia’s Senate race between Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Republican West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey took place on Thursday night.
Manchin and Morrisey debated about everything from healthcare to immigration. Though the hour-long debate largely revolved around their support for President Donald Trump and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The Virginia’s Senate race has tightened with just a few days left before the midterm. Manchin has been able to maintain a five point lead, according to recent polls.
Below are a few worthy takeaways from the debate:
Support for Trump
Morrisey highly supported Trump for his tax cuts, judicial nominations and immigration rhetoric.
Morrisey took a dig at his opponent by saying, “He votes like a senator from New Jersey.” He further added, “…That’s very different than a conservative fighter for President Trump. I’m going to work with this president to cut taxes, to reduce regulations on the hardworking job creators of our state.”
Manchin potrayed himself as a bipartisan lawmaker, who would be willing to break with his party to work with the president on important matters. Manchin also reminded that we were the only Democrat who voted for Brett Kavanaugh.
For Trump, Manchin said, “I want him to succeed and do well, and I want to help him do well. I stand up and support him when it’s good for West Virginia, and when it’s not I stand up to him.”
Immigration – a major concern
Manchin was accused of supporting “open borders,” and being on “both sides” of the Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Manchin countered Morrisey’s argument by bringing in the name of Republican senators, including the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who backed the 2013 “Gang of Eight” immigration bill.
“I’ve been against sanctuary cities. I’ve clamped down. …I think we should do everything we can do secure the borders,” Manchin said.
Both the candidates remained silent about supporting the end of birthright citizenship. While Morrisey said that he still needs to review Trump’s executive order, Manchin said “I think the president needs to say what he intends to do, ask the legislature to basically put the bill up see if it gets the vote to go on. …But he cannot do it by executive order.”
Healthcare and opioid crisis emerged as major issues throughout the Virginia’s Senate race. Both the parties claimed to support individuals’ protection with pre-existing conditions.
Manchin brought in statistics by claiming that 80 percent of West Virginians are benefitted from the Obama Care healthcare law. He tried to persuade Morrisey to sign a lawsuit that would try to overturn Obama Care as unconstitutional.
“Their remedy for this says oh yeah we’re going to protect you from pre-existing conditions, only except we won’t protect [you from] the disease you’ve had,” Manchin said, adding, “…just drop your lawsuit Patrick. If you drop your lawsuit, we’re good.”
Morrisey backed his argument by talking about a single-payer healthcare system and claiming that Republicans can protect people without keeping the Affordable Care Act in place.
The two also argued about the opioid crisis that killed more than 1,000 people due to overdose, in West Virginia in 2017.
Morrisey accused Manchin for not being able to take action to fight the issue while he was the governor and the senator.
Manchin countered the accusations by bringing forward Morrisey’s ties with the pharmaceutical industry, saying Morrisey “continues to reap benefits” from those connections.
“This is the only man that’s profited from pills coming to West Virginia,” Manchin said.
Morrisey mentioned Clinton’s name multiple times as he build a connection between Manchin and Clinton. “He’s operating in Hillary Clinton’s universe, making all the facts up,” Morrisey said.
Manchin fired at Morrisey, when he made a comment about Manchin’s visit to Washington and “made his bed with Hillary Clinton.”
Manchin said, “Hillary Clinton is not on the ballot. Joe Manchin and Pat Morrisey. Pat, I’m right here.”
Morrisey argued further, saying if Clinton had won “we wouldn’t have judges, we wouldn’t have Trump tax cuts, we would have open borders, abortion on demand.”
Clinton is pretty unpopular in West Virginia. She lost the Democratic primary to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the general election to Trump by 42 percentage points.