Joe Manchin Bashed At Liberal Netroots Nation Conference

Manchin primary opponent appeared with DNC deputy chair Rep. Keith Ellison

Sen. Joe Manchin / Getty Images
Sen. Joe Manchin / Getty Images
August 11, 2017

Democrat Paula Jean Swearengin took aim at her primary opponent, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, during a Friday morning speech at the liberal Netroots Nation conference.

Swearengin gave a passionate speech criticizing Manchin during a Friday morning session that also featured a speech by Democratic National Committee deputy chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.).

"My name is Paula Jean, I am a coal miners daughter and granddaughter, I am running for the U.S. Senate, and I'm mad as hell," Swearengin said.

"I will never sell my soul to the company store," she added, after criticizing Manchin for his corporate donors.

Swearengin, a staunch critic of the Democratic Party who is endorsed by the Bernie Sanders-aligned Brand New Congress PAC, is also set to speak on a panel with the DNC's Ellison on "Running for the People" later during the conference.

The annual Netroots conference consists of liberal organizers, activists, and advocacy organizations and regularly features speeches from high-powered Democrats, such as former Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore and Senators Elizabeth Warren (Ma.), and Bernie Sanders (Vt.).

Swearengin used her speech to condemn Manchin for his recent expletive-laced comment that he did not "give a sh*t" if he is reelected next year.

"I don't give a sh*t, you understand? I just don't give a sh*t," Manchin told the Charleston Gazette-Mail after he was asked about being criticized by a Republican opponent. "Don't care if I get elected, don't care if I get defeated, how about that."

During her speech, Swearengin asked how Manchin could make such a comment and call himself a "real public servant" if he's not listening to demands from voters.

"If my opponent Joe Manchin is listening, why does he continue to oppose half of the West Virginia Democratic party platform?" asked Swearengin, who called for the party to drop its support for Manchin. "Our incumbents in West Virginia refuse to hear the people of West Virginia."

"If elected officials don't back the Democratic Party then why is the West Virginia party backing them?" she asked.

Swearengin has criticized Manchin for taking "crooked money" from "oil barons" and pharmaceutical companies.

Swearengin touted talking points from Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign platform during her speech, advocating for tuition-free college, increasing the minimum wage, Medicare for all, and the rights of union workers to collectively bargain.

Swearengin met with Sanders earlier this year during a trip he made to West Virginia. She says that she plans to ask the Vermont senator for his endorsement, and has been in discussions with his staff.

The DNC did not respond to a request for comment on Ellison's appearance alongside Swearengin.