An ad that starting airing in West Virginia Friday said that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin opposed funding for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Manchin said several times in 2017 that he opposed the U.S. building or funding a border wall. He later said that he supported a wall, though, and he did vote to fund one.
Manchin, who’s up for re-election in November, criticized the commercial the day it started airing. “The dishonest attacks in this ad are exactly why Washington sucks,” he said in a statement. “I voted with President Trump to support his border wall, anyone who tells you different is lying.”
The campaign attorney for Manchin wrote a letter to TV stations urging them to stop playing the ad. “Your station has a duty to protect the public from false, misleading, or deceptive advertising,” the letter said.
The ad, created by political advocacy group One Nation, said that Manchin “opposed funding for Trump’s border wall.” It told viewers to contact his office and ask him to “reverse course” and “vote to fund the border wall.”
Manchin, considered to be one the most conservative Democrats in Congress, did make several statements in 2017 strongly opposing funding for a border wall.
The ad showed a clip of Manchin from an interview on “The Young Turks” on July 11, 2017. “I’m not for building a wall. I’m not for building a wall at all,” he said. He told Politico in a story released the same day that he had “not been supportive of funding for a wall.”
“It’s something I have no interest in,” Manchin told Politico. “I just think we have so many other pressing problems, and I think there’s other ways immigration needs to be treated.”
Manchin told attendees at a town hall meeting in West Virginia in April 2017 that he was not voting for the wall.
He took a softer tone in a May 2017 interview on MSNBC, when he said that Mexico should pay for the wall. “Whether you build a wall or not, if that’s the priorities you have, that’s okay; let Mexico pay for it,” Manchin said. “I can’t go home to West Virginia and all the needs that we have … saying that we’re going to spend money on this but they’re going to pay us back. That’s a hard sell.”
But Manchin changed his position as Democrats and Republicans in the Senate tried to craft legislation earlier this year that addressed immigration and border security issues. In January interviews, he expressed support for building a wall as part of a larger border security effort.
“We do need a wall,” Manchin said on Fox News. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “will come around, he’ll call it border security, someone will call it a wall. Whatever it is, we’re going to do it.”
He showed support for building a wall in a CNN interview as well. “We have to have border security. We know that. So if the president calls it a border wall, we do need wall,” Manchin said on CNN. “We need to repair some wall. We need to build some new wall. We need other technologies too.”
The One Nation ad tells viewers to ask Manchin to “reverse course,” but he did vote to fund the border wall.
Manchin voted for two comprehensive measures on Feb. 15 that would have funded border security efforts.
The first was a bipartisan compromise measure that Manchin co-sponsored and voted for in February that would have appropriated $25 billion over 10 years for border security measures including surveillance equipment and physical barriers – though those “physical barriers” may not have included the wall that President Donald Trump wanted.
Trump opposed the bipartisan legislation. He called it a “catastrophe” and said that it “doesn’t build the wall.” Instead, he urged senators to vote for Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s immigration proposal that funded a “border wall system.”
Manchin voted for Grassley’s proposal, too. His campaign pointed to the vote as evidence that he supported funding for a border wall.
Neither measure passed. Manchin said that he was disappointed the bipartisan compromise bill failed and mentioned that he voted for Trump’s plan. His statement did not specifically mention support for a border wall, however – only “border security.”
“I share the President’s commitment to border security,” Manchin said. “That’s why I voted for his plan. That’s why I fought to ensure the $25 billion he requested for border security was included in the bipartisan deal.”
One Nation spokesman Chris Pack argued that Manchin’s sponsorship of and support for the bipartisan compromise legislation showed that he was not fully committed to funding the border wall.
“Given Manchin’s erratic statements and voting history on this issue, the point of One Nation’s ad is to urge his constituents to contact Sen. Manchin and urge him to reverse course and unequivocally support strong border security the next time a critical vote is cast in the U.S. Senate,” Pack told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email.
Pack said that stations are still running the ad despite the Manchin campaign’s request to stop.
Manchin’s campaign and Senate office did not respond to requests for comment.
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