West Virginia's Republican Party is hammering Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) Manchin The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Trump, lawmakers consider app that would conduct background checks: report Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks MORE (W.Va.) this week for fence sitting on the presidential contest. 

Manchin said Friday he remains unsure if he'll vote for President Obama or Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee, in November, contending he has "real differences" with both candidates. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The comments caught fire on the Web and led local Republicans to accuse the freshman senator of "cowardice."

"Any senator voting for the people of West Virginia would strongly and proudly state without equivocation that this president's policies have been disastrous and it is critical that he be defeated," West Virginia GOP Chairman Mike Stuart said Friday, according to local reports. "This is one additional reason that Sen. Manchin should soon be retired."

Manchin, a former coal broker who replaced the late-Sen. Robert Byrd (D) in a 2010 special election, is a centrist Democrat with a record of bucking the party leadership, particularly on fiscal matters and energy issues that would effect coal-rich West Virginia. 

On Friday, Manchin told National Journal the Obama administration has "made it pretty rough" for his home state, leaving him unsure if he'll support Obama in November. 

“I’ll look at the options,” Manchin said. “I am just waiting for it to play out. I am not jumping in one way or another.

"I’m worried about me," he added. "I’ve said it’s not a team sport. You need to go out and work for yourself."

Manchin has demonstrated that independence in a number of votes against the White House, including his opposition to raising the debt ceiling and his support for a GOP proposal to repeal Obama's new birth control mandate.

Manchin made clear, however, that much of his reluctance to support Obama stems from the president's coal policies. 

"Many West Virginians and I … have concerns about the Obama Administration when it comes to energy – coal in particular – and the need to get our financial house in order," Manchin said Friday in a statement. 

Manchin's opponent in November is John Raese (R), a wealthy businessman who's launched three unsuccessful bids for the seat, including a failed challenge against Manchin in 2010.

The Cook Political Report, a well-respected election handicapper, predicts Manchin will "likely" keep his seat.