In fight against NRA, Manchin says he’s not afraid
June 20th, 2013
09:26 AM ET
9 years ago

In fight against NRA, Manchin says he’s not afraid

(CNN) - Sen. Joe Manchin is firing back after the National Rifle Association targeted the conservative Democrat in a television commercial last week.

The senator from West Virginia said Thursday morning the NRA is using "paranoia" to keep lawmakers from making big moves on gun control, following the Newtown elementary school shooting in December that left 20 children and six adults dead.

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"Why do we ask to be policy makers and be involved in the public process, when…we're afraid basically to engage," he said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "I'm not afraid to engage. The worst they can do is defeat me and send me home to my family and the state I love, West Virginia. That's a pretty good consolation. What are we afraid of?"

Manchin released an ad Thursday defending himself against the recent attack from the NRA. A leading voice in the fight for expanded background checks for firearm purchases, Manchin says in the ad that he "hasn't changed" on his stance for Second Amendment rights and simply wants to bring "common sense" to Washington.

"I'm a lifetime NRA member, but I don't walk in lockstep with the NRA's Washington leadership, this administration or any special interest group," he says, wielding a gun throughout the spot. "West Virginia, you know me. I haven't changed and you know I've always fought for our gun rights. I believe that we can protect the Second Amendment and make the community safer. I think most law abiding gun owners agree."

The spot ends with the senator urging views to call the NRA and tell them to support his fight.

Manchin's campaign spent a little more than $100,000 on the spot–slightly more than what the NRA paid on their ad–and it will run for at least a week in West Virginia, according to a campaign aide.

A conservative Democrat, Manchin made news in December when he said the Newtown massacre changed his views on gun control. He worked alongside Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania to create a bipartisan proposal that would expand background checks for private sales at gun shows and online. The measure, however, fell short in April of the 60 votes needed to proceed in the Senate.

The senator blasted the NRA and anti-gun control groups Thursday morning, saying they're simply using an argument that the government can't be trusted.

"Well I'm sorry, if you don't trust, then get involved and let's make it better," he said on MSNBC. "They just don't want to get involved. They want this paranoia going on, and I'm not going to stand back and let them."

Manchin does not face re-election until 2018, giving him more political leeway than others in the Senate to play a big role on controversial issues.

Nonetheless, Manchin seems to be fully aware that the the NRA is a powerful force in politics.

"If we can save one child, one family member from going through the heartache of what our Newtown family members went through, just one, then this is more than worth it," he said, referring to the political risk at stake in going up against the organization. "If that's the sacrifice I have to pay as a politician–not to get re-elected because of that– that's the smallest price I can pay. I'd do it every day."

Hitting back at Manchin's comments, the NRA suggested Manchin has two different sides.

"He may speak like an NRA member and tout NRA values when he's in West Virginia but when he's in Washington D.C., he votes the way Mike Bloomberg tells him to and repeats all of Bloomberg's talking points," Andrew Arulanandam told CNN on Thursday.

Last week, the NRA said it was running its spot in heavy rotation during newscasts in West Virginia. The 30-second ad features footage from a commercial for Manchin's 2010 Senate campaign in which he boasts of his NRA endorsement and fires a round into a copy of the Cap and Trade bill.

He was also endorsed by the NRA political victory fund in his 2012 Senate campaign.

"But now, Manchin is working with President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg," the narrator says in the new NRA ad. "Concerned? You should be. Tell Sen. Manchin to honor his commitment to the Second Amendment and reject the Obama-Bloomberg gun control agenda."

- CNN's Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

Filed under: Ads • Gun control • Gun rights • Joe Manchin • NRA • Senate • West Virginia
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Jinx9to88

    "The worst they can do is defeat me and send me home to my family and the state I love, West Virginia. " Said Manchin. I am starting to like this guy. So what if you loose in the election at least you have the guts to stand up for what you and the American people want. Not like these spineless and cowards that are in the senate now that get their knees dirty every time the hear NRA. NRA is not the boogie man so get out from underneath the sheets you cowards you for us not them.

    June 20, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  2. Ed1

    So what's the difference in what Bloomberg is doing.

    June 20, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  3. Ron L

    The NRA has been corrupted by the same element corrupting our government ...BIG MONEY!! They are no longer representing the will of a MAJORITY of there members. They now represent the will of the GUN MANUFACTURERS. How can you be against limiting the capacity of clips from 30 to 10 rounds when you read time and time again that the 30 round clip is preferred by the gang member because you "DON'T HAVE TO AIM" to kill some one just "SPRAY" bullets. I for one am not a big fan of guns, and I have no desire to take them from the people who understand the responsibility of owning one. But this obsession by about 15 to 20% of the electorate who want no restrictions on how they are purchased is unhealthy for all of us. There are just TOO MANY deaths caused by them to ignore it or think it will fix itself.

    June 20, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  4. BigTBone

    Thank you Joe. Stop this terrorist organization. Burn the NRA. They have offered nothing in 2 decades.

    June 20, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  5. Just a thought


    Ooops.....I know the gun huggers don't agree with Manchin on this. These people ARE are afraid they wouldn't have their little binky AR 16 to take to bed with them every night – huh? Pathetic.

    June 20, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |

    NRA is Satin!

    June 20, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  7. Just a thought

    Hey gun huggers, if your safety or entire existence is based upon the size, scope, caliber and number of rounds used in your rifle/gun, then not much working with much in your favor to begin with. So in other words if you can't run out to 7-11 and buy a gun every week, you're in trouble of being attacked – right? Yep just hide behind "I need my 2nd Amendment rights...blah blah blah.

    June 20, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  8. DMG2FUN

    The gun he is holding in the photo is considered a sniper rifle by the leftist aka progressive socialist gun haters. They want sniper rifles banned.

    June 20, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  9. JerryT

    There are around five million members of the N.R.A. that would disagree with the bedwetting, knee jerk liberals on this sight. To just a thougt why not go to your local gun club and spout off with your bull--. You key board warriors make me sick to my stomach.

    June 20, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  10. Just a thought


    Of course there are 300 million the N.R.A. members make up less than one percent of this country. And your suggestion is freedom is only found in your opinion ? How about you walk into a room full of parents that have lost children due to gun violence and don't forget to bring your 2nd Amendment blather. No one is saying that people should own guns, I own a gun. The people with good sense believe its not a good idea for the mentally disturbed to have access to assault rifles
    Quit being paranoid. No one is talking about taking away your rights to defend yourself. Go take your meds now and calm down

    June 20, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    Let him be defeated, and sent home. No one in Congress, should be trampling on the Constitutional rights of the citizens. No One.

    June 20, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  12. Just a thought

    meant to say....No one is saying the people shouldn't own guns... Let's just not confuse the rights of the many by putting lives at risk unnecessarily

    June 20, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  13. Jinx9to88

    @ – JerryT

    I have a lot better things to do then go to the gun club to show off a gun and shoot at a target. Oh goody that sounds like fun!!! Not hardly. How about save and invest that 1500 dollars you spent on that piece of metal. 4 million NRA members wow thats about 1 percent of the population. Wow!! You want to bet there are more "NON NRA" members?

    June 20, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  14. MaryM

    Thank you Senator Manchin. When the time comes for your re-election, you will have donations from all over the U.S. so the scumbag NRA leadership and gun manufacturers will not be able to touch you

    June 20, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  15. Data Driven

    Nice answer from Manchin on Morning Joe. Indeed. The worst that can happen is that voters will send you home from the Swamp. Might as well do what you believe in.

    Manchin is far too conservative for my taste, but I'll always admire his courage in facing down the NRA.

    June 20, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  16. Thomas Antel

    Most sportsmen and hunters are fed up with the NRA.

    You don't need a 30 round clip to hunt game .

    June 20, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    There are factions within the NRA. Manchin negotiated the bill with some actual members and gun owners. Now, it is the NRA leadership who is fighting against Manchin, not the rank and file members that he worked with.

    It should be noted that the board of the NRA in comprised exclusively of top executives and owners of companies that manufacture weapons and ammunition. There is not a single weekend warrior among them.

    June 20, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. A True Conservative

    At least Joe isn't pointing the gun at children playing in the yard like the other anti-gun ads. I still disagree with him – let's try enforcing the existing laws first.

    June 20, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  19. NRA is Rightwing Silky Smooth

    SATAN vs Satin


    NRA is Satin!

    June 20, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |

    June 20, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  20. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Imagery is everything. Manchin is a huntsman which is why he has a huntsman's rifle. If you need an AR-15 to kill a dear, elk, or anything else in the wild, then you're no real hunter. Anyway, Manchin's bill is just calling for universal background checks. Nothing more and nothing less. It doesn't call for an assault weapons ban. It called for prison time for those who will attempt to make a database. What does the NRA have against universal background checks when they once supported them?

    June 20, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    A True Conservative

    At least Joe isn't pointing the gun at children playing in the yard like the other anti-gun ads. I still disagree with him – let's try enforcing the existing laws first.
    Enforce existing laws? What laws could you possibly be talking about? You must mean state laws because gun laws are almost non-existent at the federal level.

    There is currently no federal law against interstate gun trafficking. When background checks are made mental health records are off limits. My personal favorite is what happens when a person is caught and arrested for having an illegal gun. Law prohibits a background check from being run on the individual, AND the law requires that the weapon must be returned to the individual. How stupid is that?

    Again, what laws are you talking about enforcing? We need better federal laws because states are not enforcing their own laws or have very lax laws, all of which hurts other states that need stricter gun laws.

    June 20, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |