December 22nd, 2013
12:17 PM ET
9 months ago

Democratic senator: Obama’s lack of congressional friendships hurts policy efforts

(CNN) – The President’s failure to build friendships with lawmakers has damaged his chances of finding bipartisan support for legislation, a senator from his own party said Sunday.

“It's just hard to say no to a friend," Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

"When you build that relationship and that friendship, you're looking for ways to try to work things out and find a compromise and, you know, that friendship means an awful lot. When you don't build those personal relationships, it's pretty easy for a person to say, well, let me talk about it, you know, and not really make, you know, that extra effort."

Manchin also said Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid should engage more with Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"You know, we all have different styles,” Manchin said. It’s “just not in the president's nature to pal around,” the conservative Democrat said, adding that Obama doesn’t have a gregarious personality like former President Bill Clinton.

With the partisan gridlock and many senators up for re-election, Manchin, who has called for congressional action on tighter gun laws, said it's going to be challenging to get such legislation passed next year, though he remains hopeful.

"It’s going to be difficult to get the extra votes that we need, I'll be honest with you," he said. "I'm not going to force anybody and make anybody uncomfortable. They all know they have to live with themselves and go back home and explain it."

A background check compromise, crafted by Manchin and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, failed earlier this year to reach the 60 votes needed to move forward in the Senate. Along with the background checks legislation, a ban on assault weapons also went down in defeat.

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soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Gunderson

    Joe,
    With friends like Obama who needs enemies? Obama doesn't have time for you Joe.

    December 22, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. Amazing

    Your job is to govern on behalf of the American people. If you become friends, then this just a secondary benefit but that is not your job. You were not elected to vote for bills for your friends. You vote for bills that are in the best interest of the American people regardless if comes from a friend or someone from the other side of the political spectrum.

    December 22, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  3. Dennis Freeman

    Who put the quarter in him?

    December 22, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. Blame me

    Hey Joe,
    When does the back-slapping stops and doing the right thing for American people that sent you there begins?

    December 22, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. Tampa Tim

    It's hard to make friend with a person whose campaign began with shooting at a copy of ACA. Usually, senators reach out to the president.

    December 22, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  6. Tampa Tim

    Yesterday a bagger wrongly reported that Bush's "Wide Receiver" did not lose track of any guns. If that bagger would look it up, he would realize he or she was wrong, again.

    December 22, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. Smitty

    Joe, who really wants to befriend the biggest liar of the year????

    December 22, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. Winston Smith

    The truth is a powerful thing. When are the inbred among you going to recognize this fact?

    December 22, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  9. John in Brooklyn

    With "friends" like Joe Manchin, who needs enemies?

    December 22, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. SweetBrownSugarmama

    President Obama has done everything possible to get along with these republican clowns. They will never ever except a black President so he should just stop trying. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi know that the GOP has no intentions of negoitiating or reasoning with this president instead they want to fight him in everyway. They will once again loose and hopefully and prayerfully we the real people will send them packing in 2014 so we can leave a cleaned out Congress for our next President Clinton

    December 22, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  11. Gurgyl

    Does congress ever yield to friendship? Nonsense. This congress is the most HORRIBLE ONE.

    December 22, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  12. Jonathon Powelly

    If one wants a friend in Washington, get a dog.

    December 22, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. barryinlasvegas

    Obama started his first meeting with the congressional leaders of the Republican Party by telling them "I won, I get to write the bills the way I want." Not the best way to start off your presidency and he wonders why they took the position that they were going to work to defeat everything he did.

    December 22, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. vikingwoman

    First, Manchin seems to have a case of "rhinitis," (that time of year?:)),2nd, Obama can do "nothing right," not even take a selfie @ Mandelas funeral w/2 other heads of state, w/out drawing all blame (Danish PM took pic)! Last, who excpects this president to be able to work across the isle, when the GOTP has made it, in every way, impossible & have been vocal about Not wanting to work w/him?? Perhaps a Dem w/rhinistis, trying to make a "chameo" for Christmas?!

    December 22, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  15. neutral observer

    Gurgyl, you're right. This is worst senate ever. Just think of how many people could have kept their insurance if they'd just used their heads and not rammed Obama care through.

    December 22, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  16. Harold Reed

    But Obama was supposed to be "the Great Unitor who would usher in an era of unprecedented cooperation"
    All we got was 5 years of Hoax and Blame

    December 22, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  17. Evergreen

    Only in Washington can you get away with not doing your job because someone is not friends with someone else. GROW UP!

    December 22, 2013 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  18. king

    this friendship crap is fantasy. which repubs will be out of their minds to be friends with this black president and allow the tea partiers to see them. most repubs claims they cannot stand being in the same room with this president. i dont know where manchin been for the past 5 years, but he needs to go back there

    December 22, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  19. Anthony in California

    And for ALL that the President HAS done wrong, he is STILL head and shoulders ABOVE this Congress...

    December 23, 2013 01:37 am at 1:37 am |