Democratic National Commitee chair Tom Perez said in an interview published Friday that he respected Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) for voting to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, even though he disagreed with the decision.
In an interview where he fielded questions from HuffPost, Perez defended Manchin bucking all of his Democratic colleagues to vote for Kavanaugh, who faced uncorroborated allegations of sexual misconduct in one of the nastiest confirmation fights in American history.
After Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) announced she would be the deciding vote in favor of Kavanaugh and ensure his confirmation, Manchin announced he would also vote yes. He said he had already decided he would support Kavanaugh before Collins did, and he was met with chants of "Shame!" from angry protesters.
"What was your thinking when you said that you would continue to support a Democrat who voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court?" reporter Wil Hylton asked.
"There was only one Democrat who voted for Kavanaugh, and that was Senator Joe Manchin ... Joe Manchin is going to win in West Virginia," Perez said. "I disagree with him—if I had been a senator, I would have voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation. But I am not a senator. I thought it was pretty remarkable that almost every Democratic senator voted against the nomination. I think that was the right thing to do. I disagree with, but respect, what Senator Manchin did."
He went on to praise Manchin's stances on health care and unions, but Hylton continued to press him on giving financial support to Manchin, who is up for re-election on Tuesday in a state President Donald Trump won by more than 40 points.
"But what’s the point of electing Democrats who don’t even vote with the party on something as fundamental as protecting women from sexual assault?" Hylton asked.
"Well, Joe Manchin did what he believed was in the interest of the voters of West Virginia," Perez said. "I disagree with the vote he took. I do not know the voters of West Virginia as well as Joe Manchin does. I wish he had voted differently. But the most important issue confronting Americans right now, in this midterm election, is access to health care. If Republicans win, they’re going after Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. So I want more Democrats in the Senate to fight against those efforts, and I know Joe Manchin will be one of those people, because I’ve met him."
Asked about Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.) and her decision to oppose Kavanaugh in spite of her home state, Perez said he agreed with her decision and respected her as well. Heitkamp now trails her GOP opponent, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), by double digits in the polls, while Manchin is favored to win his race against Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey.
"Heidi Heitkamp did what she thought was in the best interest of the voters of North Dakota, and I respect and applaud what she did," Perez said.