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What Joe Manchin told Steve Clemons at dinner


What Joe Manchin told Steve Clemons at dinner

Ryan: Wait wait, let’s not bury the lead here. How did you get to know Joe Biden?

Steve: Well, let me just finish. And then I meet Joe Manchin at Biden’s home. First time. That’s where I first actually physically met him.

Ryan: What year’s that?

Steve: I’m really bad with years.

Ryan: What era would it be? Is it Biden as vice president?

Steve: Yeah, Biden is vice president.

Ryan: So it’s at the vice president’s mansion?

Steve: At the vice president’s residence. It was a holiday party, I think, if I remember correctly. We began talking about “don’t ask, don’t tell” and he was the senator, just like today. Hanging out and likely not on board with “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal. I talked to him about it at that reception. He said “Steve, you know, we’ve got a lot of West Virginia military families.” I said “Look, I’m an Air Force brat. I know military families, believe me. Military families are over it. It’s not a big deal.” So, we had this conversation back and forth. It was pretty good. And then he for family reasons I know now, but I didn’t know him well, he missed a vote on “don’t ask, don’t tell. ”At that time, I didn’t look at it as cowardly. I knew he was opposed to change. Missing the vote kept him out of that. He wasn’t going to be in favor. Anyway, I got a call, you know, from him and he says “Come up and see me.” We had a conversation and that kind of led to a deeper appreciation I had for how serious he was about a lot of wonky things that were interesting, like corruption.

Ryan: Where did you meet him?

Steve: In his office. I mean, I didn’t want to meet him. I didn’t want him to call.

Ryan: Really?

Steve: Oh, no, I did not want to. I mean, Heather Bresch [Sen. Manchin’s daughter] called me and said, “My dad’s going to call you” and I said “I would really rather him not call.” We went up there, and at the time, the debates of the sequester were up and I found it serious. I found it serious and I said, “You know what? I don’t like where he is on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but he’s doing some interesting things and now I have an inside track to talking to him about serious stuff….

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