Joe Manchin, the Democratic Senator from West Virginia, is breaking with his party in his refusal to rule out endorsing President Donald Trump in 2020.
“I’m open to supporting the person who I think is best for my country and my state,” Manchin told Politico. “If his policies are best, I’ll be right there.”
Trump is an intensely popular figure in West Virginia. He beat Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election by more than 40 percentage points in the state, and a Gallup poll in January found West Virginians approved of Trump more than any other state in the nation.
“I’m with him sometimes more than other Republican senators are with him,” Manchin said. As a Democrat in a deep-red state up for re-election in November, Manchin has aligned himself with Trump in hopes to catch some of his popularity and win over Republican districts. “If it’s good for the state and it’s good for the nation, I’m going to support that person,” Manchin told Politico. “A lot of the policies he’s done [have] been good for the state.”
Manchin has taken his support for Trump so far he said he regrets supporting Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. “It was a mistake. It was a mistake politically,” he said. Manchin cited Clinton’s pledge of $20 billion to the state as the reason he supported her.
Whether it’s related to his support of Trump or not, Manchin’s bid for re-election in the Senate has been a success so far. A poll, conducted by Geoff Garin of Hart Research Associates and released May 29, showed Manchin leading Republican challenger and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey by double digits. Manchin polled at 52% while Morrisey held 40% of the “likely voters” who were polled.
Even as Manchin has gravitated towards Trump, the White House is still throwing it’s support behind his opponent. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, visited West Virginia Tuesday to campaign for Morrisey. “The people in this state get it, they’ve been forgotten, they’ve been left behind and they’ve been left behind by one of two people that’s representing them in the senate,” he said of Manchin according to WVNS.