Manchin believes immigration is another critical issue. He said that before he became a senator, he did not realize "the economy would be devastated in our Southwestern states if all the illegal immigrants were sent back. I did not know that because it is not a part of our culture here."
Manchin said he believes illegal immigrants should be allowed to become citizens if they graduate from two-year or four-year colleges or if they serve in the military.
Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, said widespread drug abuse is a major problem confronting West Virginia businesses looking to hire new people.
"We have an epidemic out there. We have employers who cannot find people who can pass drug tests. We've got jobs for people who will pass the drug test," Roberts said.
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said he worries about proposed "massive spending cuts."
"I am astonished to hear all the people who say spending is the main problem," said Carper, who believes other problems also cause our financial problems.
"We will see less and less federal spending on roads and businesses," Carper warned.
In a Tuesday-morning conference call before Manchin's event in Charleston, his No Labels co-chairman, Huntsman, said that he believes the entitlements -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- are the "key cost driver" for the government's financial problems.
"Unless you do something about entitlements," Huntsman said, "in 15 years it will have an impact on every single American."
To do that, he said, "You need members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to put their country first."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.