Three centrist Democrats in the U.S. Senate are already pledging to work with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Politico reports that Democratic senators Jon Tester of Montana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota are all pledging to make nice with Trump should he actually be elected president.
To be sure, none of these Democrats are endorsing Trump, and Heitkamp in particular is an ally of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. But these Democrats are already signaling their willingness to cave to a President Trump months before this year’s presidential election.
“The people will have a chance to vote,” Heitkamp told Politico. “If Donald Trump is elected president there will be a great opportunity to sit down and have a conversation about what that agenda looks like. If he’s president, we’re going to have disagreement. But we’d better all figure out how to come up with an agenda for the American people.”
“This place doesn’t work very well unless you’re able to work with folks,” said Tester. “So I would hope so. I mean he’s got some pretty goofy opinions, but hopefully we’ve got some stuff we can work on.”
The worst of these three offenders was Joe Manchin, who suggested to Politico that Trump can’t really be as crazy and extreme as the way he’s campaigned so far for president.
“What you see in the campaign and if he would be elected at that level, what you’re going to see is a little different,” Manchin said. “He didn’t get to where he got to by making a lot of bad deals.”
These three senators have more conservative electorates to deal with compared to Democrats in Massachusetts and California. It’s also true that these senators are up for reelection in 2018 and will be prime targets for the GOP.
At the same time, not every centrist Dem who’s up for reelection in 2018 has taken such a tack. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, for instance, was reluctant to say she could find common ground with Trump on anything, especially since he seems to change what his proposed policies are every other day.
“I don’t know if he’d send one piece of legislation over in the morning, and then send the exact opposite legislation that afternoon,” McCaskill told Politico. “You go down every single issue, he is all over the place. So I have no idea. I don’t think he knows. It’s clear to me he’s kind of making this up as he goes along.”