Election 2020

Dem Congressman: Democratic Party 'Sometimes Slips Into Intolerance'

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) criticized his own party for “intolerance” of Democrats with points of view that differ from the majority of the party’s members.

“The problem is, and we saw a little of it in the recent House race in Georgia, where our candidate was told, ‘you didn’t pass the litmus test on certain things,’ you know, it’s absolutely crazy. We have to get to the point where we understand that Democrats will not get into the majority unless we have Blue Dogs,” Cleaver said, referring to the fiscally conservative caucus, during a discussion called, “Diverse Democrats: What It Takes To Win” hosted by the nonprofit organization Third Way. “And our position needs to be, ‘we don’t care what color the dog as long as it’s our dog’ because, you know, we need friendly dogs and the thing is they’ve won before, they’ve won, and then what happens is then they get beat up by Democrats for voting on something their constituents would like them to support.”

“I mean, it’s absolutely crazy. Then, you know, the party of toleration, or tolerance, sometimes slips into intolerance – and I think we can see that from time to time,” he added.

Cleaver said he “could just list the people, you know, Democrats beating up on some Democrats who voted opposite of how the majority voted.”

“My voting record is liberal. It’s a weird kind of a deal. I mean, I get a 100 from every liberal group and in the last election I got a 100 from every rural organization. I think you can do it if you’re true and not – I would hate to the use the word fake, man, they’ve messed up that word,” added the congressman, a member of the House Committee on Financial Services.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said the Democratic Party should not have selected Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) as the candidate in Georgia’s 6th district congressional race for Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s former congressional seat.

“I think he’s a fine young man. I think he did the best he probably could, but you picked a candidate that didn’t even live in the area so he had to fight residency from day one. So you get behind the eight ball and you have to find your way out of that,” Manchin said. “Why give them more than they need? Why give him information or give him fodder when you shouldn’t be looking and recruiting in such a rich environment – that was unfair to the young man to pull him into that even though he had the desire to serve, I think, knowing it’s going to be hostile.”

Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) said not to forget a Democrat should not have “had a chance” in that specific Georgia district.

“Given it was Tom Price’s former district, it really says a lot about the environment today,” she said.

Manchin added that the Georgia 6th district special election showed that the “winds were shifting” and the party did “have a chance” to win the election with the right candidate.

“But you would have to find someone of impeccable character who was rooted in that area,” he said. “But they couldn’t. And if you didn’t like him because they were going to be associated with the liberal Democrat Washington Democrats, that’s what he would have had to fight off or she would have had to fight off.”

Republican Karen Handel defeated Ossoff 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent in the special election.