Trump hits Manchin over tax bill vote at West Virginia event
President Trump criticized Sen. Joe Manchin (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 Jenkins and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. The two men are running against each other in the Senate primary, along with former coal executive Don Blankenship.
Trump beat out Hillary Clinton 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.