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Joe Manchin Defends Koch Brothers: 'They're Not Breaking The Law'

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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) praised Charles and David Koch for “providing jobs” during an interview on “Fox and Friends” Thursday, defending the billionaire oil magnates against recent attacks from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

"People want jobs. You don’t beat up people. I mean, I don’t agree with their politics or philosophically, but, you know, they’re Americans, they’re doing -- paying their taxes," Manchin said. "They’re not breaking the law. They’re providing jobs.”

Reid has taken to the Senate floor several times in recent weeks to attack the Koch brothers’ multi-million-dollar ad campaigns targeting vulnerable Senate Democrats.

“It’s too bad that they are trying to buy America,” Reid said in February. “And it’s time that the American people spoke out against this terrible dishonesty of these two brothers, who are about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine.”

Manchin, however, viewed Reid’s strategy as a pointless and destructive effort to garner Democratic support.

"If you're trying to rally the base, the bases have already been rallied," the Blue Dog Democrat said on Thursday. "The right and left bases have been rallied."

"Right, wrong or indifferent, whether you like their politics or not, there’s people who don’t like the extreme Democrat politics or the extreme Republican politics. We have to start being Americans again,” Manchin added. "This type of rhetoric does not help us move this country or move the agenda forward.”

Steve Lombardo, a Koch Industries spokesman, applauded Manchin’s remarks in an interview with Politico Thursday.

“My guess is that Sen. Manchin has expressed a point of view that a lot other senators -- Democrats, Republicans -- have probably wanted to say and haven’t," Lombardo said. “[It]’s about time that somebody did speak out and my hope is that others join and that Sen. Reid stops doing this and begins to get back to addressing the problems facing the country.”

While the Koch political network has served as the nation's largest financier for conservative causes, the Koch Industries' PAC also donated $18,500 to five Democratic members of Congress, including Manchin, between January and July of 2011, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The other four recipients -- Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Dan Boren (D-Okla.), John Barrow (D-Ga.) and Mike Ross (D-Ark.) -- were members of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition, which received $5,000 from Koch Industries' PAC in April 2011.

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