White House tries to pacify Democratic senator upset at Kamala Harris doing media in his state without telling him

 (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
(Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

The White House says it has “been in touch” with Senator Joe Manchin after he expressed surprise at Kamala Harris doing media interviews in his home state of West Virginia.

Mr Manchin was reportedly annoyed at not being told the vice president would be promoting Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic relief plan on TV stations in the state.

Mr Manchin, a conservative Democrat, is now a key vote in any major legislation the White House wants to pass through the Senate.

“We’ve been in touch with Senator Manchin, as we have been for many weeks and will continue to be moving forward,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

“Not only is he a key partner to the President and to the White House on this package, but on his agenda and we will remain in close touch with him.”

Ms Psaki did not confirm who at the White House had spoken with Mr Manchin after the vice president appeared on stations to plug the American Rescue Plan.

“I saw it. I couldn’t believe it. No one called me,” Mr Manchin told WSAZ last week after the interview with the vice president aired on the same channel.

“We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward. I think we need to, but we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together, what was done.”

During her TV interview Ms Harris touted their relief package and said she and the president believed it was necessary to “work with a sense of urgency” to address the impact of the Covid crisis.

Ms Psaki declined to say in her press briefing if the vice president’s interview was an attempt to put pressure on Mr Manchin to support the package.

“Our focus is communicating with the American people about how the American rescue plan can help put food on the table, can help ensure we can get vaccines in the arms of Americans and help send kids back to school,” she said.

“That’s our overarching objective with all of the communications we do.”

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Originally published February 1, 2021, 9:28 PM