Democratic Senator Joe Manchin represents one of the reddest states in the union, and that’s a problem.
Manchin voted to convict Donald Trump of “obstruction of Congress” in the recent Senate trial, receiving attaboys from Democrats and being condemned by Republicans. Up for re-election in 2024, he was praised for his “courage” by national Democrats.
Impeachment was unpopular in West Virginia and Donald Trump isn’t. For that reason, Manchin’s “courage” has kind of disappeared as he is apparently trying to woo the president and get his support for his re-election bid.
“I don’t rule anything out. I really don’t rule anything out,” Manchin said in an interview in his office amid a series of attacks from the president. “I’m always going to be for what’s best for my country. Everybody can change. Maybe the president will change, you know? Maybe that uniter will come out, versus the divider.”
While it may defy logic that Manchin could support a president he voted to kick out of office, Manchin sees things differently. Trump did everything he could to defeat Manchin in 2018 and Manchin forgave him a week later. It might take Trump longer to forget Manchin’s vote, but the third-term senator is hopeful as always.
“It’s not different when he wanted to have lunch the week after I was elected. And he said: ‘I knew we couldn’t beat you.’ And I said: ‘it wasn’t for lack of trying.’ Boom, it’s over, let it go. I did. I’m asking him to do the same thing I did,” Manchin said. “He tried to remove me.”
There’s really no mystery to it. Manchin needs Trump to get re-elected and despite believing him unfit for office, he hopes that by 2024, the president can forgive him and endorse him.
But that might be harder this time around.
Trump has lately attacked Manchin as “Munchkin” and Manchin has criticized Trump for not mounting a defense during the impeachment trial and for his name-calling. Manchin said he hasn’t reached out to the president or the White House yet about putting his trial vote behind him, saying he wanted things to “simmer down” a bit before making that move.
He doesn’t know Trump very well, does he? Trump is the most vindictive president since Nixon and with impeachment, there isn’t going to be any forgiving and forgetting.
But Senator Lindsey Graham thinks that Trump needs Manchin for future votes.
Trump “doesn’t believe it today, but there will come a time when we need Joe tomorrow,” Graham said. “We still have a lot to do here. Prescription drugs and a lot of things are gonna be right on the cusp of 60 votes.”
So in the end, it will depend on how badly Trump wants his agenda to pass in Congress. If he continues his jihad against Manchin, he could drive the senator fully into the arms of Democrats. Manchin will wind up with whoever will do him the most good in his re-election bid. Democrats would gladly welcome him if Trump were to burn his bridges with Manchin to satisfy his sense of personal revenge.