Trump hits Manchin over tax bill vote at West Virginia event

President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE criticized Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (D-W.Va.) on Thursday and encouraged voters to oust him in November, after cultivating a working relationship with the red-state Democrat last year.

Trump took particular aim at Manchin's decision to vote against legislation slashing tax rates in December, but added that he's "done other things I don't like."

"I’ll be honest with you, he does other things," Trump said at a tax reform roundtable event in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.


"So you’re going to have a chance to get a senator that’s going to vote our program," he added, referring to the upcoming election. "That’s going to help you in so many different ways. And you’re not getting that now."

Trump made the comments while flanked by two West Virginia Republicans looking to unseat Manchin — Rep. Evan JenkinsEvan Hollin JenkinsWest Virginia New Members 2019 Republican Carol Miller holds off Democrat in West Virginia House race Trump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report MORE and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. The two men are running against each other in the Senate primary, along with former coal executive Don Blankenship.

Some Republicans have expressed concerns that Blankenship's fiery campaign could pose a threat to the GOP's chances of winning the seat. He presided over the Upper Big Branch Mine, where an explosion killed dozens of miners eight years ago, but has still posted strong polling numbers in the GOP primary. 

Trump beat out Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report A question for Robert Mueller MORE by a wide margin in West Virginia in 2016, making Manchin a vulnerable target for Republican challengers in the 2018 midterms.

Manchin fired back at comments from the event on Thursday, calling it "political posturing" and saying that "West Virginians deserve answers" on various issues, such as rural hospitals potentially going bankrupt and why tax cuts for the middle-class are not permanent. 

"What will the 200,000 West Virginians do when they lose healthcare coverage?" Manchin asked, while not directly mentioning Trump. "How much will Republicans cut from Medicare and Social Security?"

The West Virginia Democrat has been notably friendlier with Trump than many of his Democratic colleagues. In December, he tweeted – and later deleted – a photo of himself giving a thumbs-up alongside Trump at the White House. In January, he and another centrist Democrat were invited to an exclusive meeting with Trump after the government shutdown.

Still, Manchin joined Senate Democrats in December in voting against the GOP tax bill, which he criticized as a “political tool” pushed without bipartisan consensus that hurts seniors and those who obtain health care from the open market. 

Manchin's relationship with the Trump administration had definitively soured by earlier this year, when Manchin exchanged testy words with Vice President Pence over how seriously the White House means it when it touts "bipartisanship."

Updated: 6:45 p.m.