West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has a tough job of he wants to win reelection: remaining a centrist Democrat in a cherry red state as politics become ever more partisan.
“I’m open to supporting the person who I think is best for my country and my state,” Manchin said to POLITICO when asked about his 2020 endorsement. “If his policies are best, I’ll be right there.”
Manchin and Trump have become quite friendly over the past year and a half, with the senator supporting several of the president's initiatives and the two exchanging public displays of affection – apparently with some regulatory:
The president recently mocked Manchin in front of the Senate GOP caucus as trying to hug him all the time — only a slight exaggeration, by Manchin’s telling.
“We just kind of do the man-bump type thing. That’s it. And I think he’s pulling me as much as I’m pulling him,” Manchin said in describing his physical embraces with the president.
In a state that went heavily for Trump, Manchin knows he must walk a fine line in order to keep his job – which he said Senate Democrats are making more difficult.
Win or lose, Manchin said this is — “for sure” — his last campaign. And he says there's still time for Trump to get on the Manchin train in a state where Manchin won his last race by 24 points and Obama lost by nearly 27 points.
"Mr. President, here’s the thing: What we find out is people like you and like me in my state. They know me. In a state that you’re extremely popular in ... you won’t have success" campaigning against me, Manchin said, recounting his recent telephone call with Trump. "Because I am going to win, [and] it’s not going to look good on you."