Meghan McCain was criticized on Monday for praising ”freethinkers” after Sen. Joe Manchin explained why he opposes the For the People Act, a piece of legislation intended to expand voting rights and reduce the impact of money in politics.
“I respect freethinkers. I love people who buck party trends on both sides,” the co-host said during the June 7 airing of The View.
On social media, McCain’s comments were met by swift criticism.
“STHU!! signed The Entire World,” wrote one user.
McCain’s remarks come after Manchin, a conservative Democratic senator from West Virginia, explained in a weekend op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail that he won’t support the Democrats’ sweeping election reform bill the For the People Act because the “fundamental right to vote has itself become overtly politicized.” According to Manchin, if election reform is done in a partisan manner, it will “ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen.”
On Monday, McCain suggested Democrats could learn something from Manchin about winning over Republican voters.
“Joe Manchin won the state of West Virginia which overwhelmingly was the state that went the highest voting for Trump in the entire union. Maybe Democrats can learn something about winning red states. But instead of taking the lessons of Joe Manchin, they’d rather just call him a heretic and call him a traitor, and by the way, if you’re a Republican that votes against your party you’re a hero and a maverick.”
The For the People Act of 2021 was passed in the House in March and introduced in the Senate later in the month. Reforms included in the bill would go into effect by the November 2022 election season and would expand voter registration and access to elections by undoing some of the sweeping restrictions being enacted by GOP-controlled state legislatures around the nation, address campaign spending, seek to end gerrymandering, and attempt to limit foreign interference in elections by expanding the band on foreign nationals’ contributions to elections.
Jemele Hill took to Twitter on June 6 to criticize Manchin for opposing the reforms, calling him a “cowardly, power-hungry white dude.”
On Twitter, users shared their thoughts about McCain’s remarks.
Another questioned what was so “far left” about having access to voting.
Manchin also wrote that he would oppose changes to Senate filibuster rules, which currently allow Republicans to hold up progressive bills supported by President Joe Biden’s administration.
Americans for Prosperity, a policy group founded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch and now run by the surviving brother Charles Koch, has established an influential network of conservative donors that has poured money into recent election cycles. These groups have pressured Manchin to oppose voting rights legislation and the elimination of the filibuster.
“A wise man once said that it takes a lot of courage to stand up to your enemies but that it takes even more courage up to stand up to your friends,” Ted Ellis, the director of coalitions for Americans for Prosperity’s government affairs team, told the audience in a video posted to the policy group’s Facebook page in May. “And that’s what Joe Manchin is doing right now. He’s displaying, I think, a lot of courage and we should applaud that.”
In a statement to CNBC, a spokesperson for Americans for Prosperity would not deny whether its representatives had spoken to Manchin or his team about the For the People Act.
Sunny Hostin also chimed in on the voting rights issue, asserting that Republicans are introducing restrictive voting bills across the country because their agenda does not “speak to the people.”
Hostin continued, “Rather than have agendas that address the very real needs of Americans, they have decided to take the vote away from Americans. They’ve decided to cheat. And the only way to address that is to address it federally and that is what this act does. And I think Joe Manchin just has it wrong.”