WASHINGTON – He starts his day at 6 a.m. every morning. And by sundown, he has around 14,000 steps clocked on his Fitbit. Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia, is known to walk through the halls of the U.S. Capitol at full speed.
He starts his day talking with staffers about his day in a morning “strategy” session. His staffers make him a special “hand card” that he carries around all day – it’s a detailed schedule, telling him where to go and at what time – and it’s constantly changing.
After this: a brisk walk to an energy hearing, before a race up to the Capitol, where the senator votes no on the budget. And then he bumps into a pal.
“I just so admire the constructive approach he is trying to take on so many of these issues,” says Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), about Manchin. The two step away for a private talk – likely on pending legislation – before parting ways. Manchin says it’s in these casual encounters with other members of Congress that he gets the majority of his work done.
Next, the senator grabs a coffee. It’s almost 11 a.m. and he’s sitting in on a commerce committee hearing before heading to a closed-door meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
From the Majority Leader’s office – he’s now back in his own cushy leather chair, talking to a group of high school students from Mount View High School. He’s tough on the kids, relaying the dangers of drugs and addiction that can sometimes plague young adults. He says to them “stay on the right path” and to “focus on education” to get ahead.
Only halfway through the afternoon, and he’s already at 9,000 steps on his Fitbit.
“He immediately started running and I was quickly informed that if I didn’t catch up with him, I wasn’t getting the job,” said Communications Director Jonathan Kott, with a laugh.
“He walks very quickly and he also likes us to chase after him. Sometimes it’s fun but it’s not so fun when you lose him,” said Katie Longo, Deputy Communications Director.
But the DC bureau chase was also on: cameras followed Manchin through the Capitol halls: to a veterans hearing, meetings with two separate groups of constituents, a live television interview, and back to the Senate chamber for more votes.
In all, his office had the DC Bureau staff for a grand total of 12 hours – making for a very whirlwind day on Capitol Hill.