By KEVIN ROBILLARD | 4/18/13 8:13 AM EDT
The public face of a failed amendment to expand background checks for gun purchases promised to continue pushing his legislation Thursday, saying he’ll work with skittish Democrats who voted against the bill.
“We’re gonna pass this,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told gun-control-backing MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on “Morning Joe.” “Don’t you give up. Don’t you give up.”
“These are good people,” Manchin said of other conservative Democrats who opposed the legislation. “I’ve got to sit down. There’s more work I’ve got to do. I’ve got to sit down and work with my colleagues. Heidi Heitkamp is my friend. I’m just so tickled to death she is there. I got to get Heidi comfortable so the people in North Dakota know how good she is and what we can do to make her feel comfortable that we represented the people. … I’m not going to allow a criminal or an Al Qaeda terrorist to be able to go to the gun show like he advertised to pick up guns but if there is some language that is uncomfortable, I’ve got to work harder to make them comfortable. … If the NRA didn’t score this, we would’ve had 15 more votes.”
Universal background checks — a goal Manchin’s bill, crafted alongside Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, falls short of — have the support of up to 90 percent of the American public in opinion polls. Four Democrats voted against the proposal, which fell six votes short of passage, so earning their support won’t be enough to pass the legislation. (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also voted against the bill so he could bring it up again under Senate rules.)
Manchin also took full responsibility for the legislation and its failure.
“People were saying that was President Obama’s bill and you might not like President Obama,” Manchin said. “This is not President Obama’s bill, Chuck Schumer’s bill. It wasn’t Chuck Schumer’s bill. Chuck Schumer and President Obama, the White House, were moving off of their position to find common ground. If we could just find other people who would move off their position to find common ground. … If they want to blame somebody, blame me. I tried to bring people together to find a common balance.”