West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, days removed from announcing he won’t seek reelection, said Wednesday that if the nation’s voters give former President Donald Trump another term in the White House, “he will destroy democracy in America.”
Manchin, whose home state voters overwhelmingly backed Trump in the last two presidential elections, made the comment on a press call with West Virginia-based reporters amid speculation that Manchin himself might be weighing a third-party run for president.
On Wednesday, the centrist Democrat from West Virginia declared that he would never wish to be a “spoiler”—someone who helped another contender win an election. However, he pledged to take every necessary action to save the nation.
“If they said, ‘You’re the only person to do it,’ I’ll do whatever I can to save this nation,” he said.
Manchin had harsh words for how the two-party system is currently functioning.
“These parties have taken over to where they weaponized us against each other,” he said. “And that’s wrong.”
However, Manchin saved his worst remarks for Trump, who won all 55 of West Virginia’s counties in both 2016 and 2020, making the state one of the most devoted to the former president. Manchin declared that extending Trump’s term would be “dangerous.”
“You can’t have this visceral hatred spewing out of every time you give a speech, denigrating Americans,” he said. “And the only good American is the one that likes you and supports you; the only fair election is the one you win; the only laws pertain to everybody but you.”
Manchin also critiqued Democratic President Joe Biden on Wednesday, saying he has been pushed too far to the left during his term in office.
After Manchin announced his decision last week not to seek another term, Trump took to social media to take credit for nudging him out of the race by endorsing the current West Virginia governor’s bid for Manchin’s Senate seat next year
“Because I Endorsed Big Jim Justice of West Virginia for the U.S. Senate, and he has taken a commanding lead, Democrat Joe Manchin has decided not to seek re-election. Looking good for Big Jim!” the former president said on his Truth Social internet site.
Less than a week had passed since Manchin, a once-deeply blue senator from West Virginia who served as governor, secretary of state, and state legislature before being elected to the Senate in 2010, declared he would not seek reelection due to his dissatisfaction with the political divide in the United States.
As the lone Democratic statewide officeholder in West Virginia, Manchin would have faced challenging odds to win reelection: either Gov. Jim Justice or U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney, both ardent supporters of President Trump.
Political analysts have conjectured that Manchin may be considering a potential presidential run as a candidate with No Labels after he decided not to seek reelection next week. Manchin has a longstanding friendship with No Labels, an organisation that has started having private discussions with candidates for president, including Manchin.
On the same day that Manchin declared he would not run for reelection to the Senate, a group advocating for Manchin to team up with retiring Utah Senator Mitt Romney to pursue a third-party presidential bid separately submitted papers to establish an official political committee with the Federal Election Commission.
Manchin reiterated his promise to tour the nation in order to assess support in a centrist political movement, but he stated that he has not yet decided what to do.
“I’ve done everything I can to try to change the political dysfunction and political divisions that we have in Washington, and I’ve come to the conclusion, it can’t be done here in Washington,” he said.
Manchin’s comments were made the day after a heated exchange between a Republican senator and a witness during a congressional hearing turned physical. Sen. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma had challenged Sean O’Brien, the head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, to a duel.
Manchin, a member of Congress, expressed his shame at the heated exchange and used it as the most recent illustration of how radicalism is becoming more prevalent in American politics. He claimed that Trump has both aided and abetted in this
“The normal procedures in the political arena today, from Donald Trump’s point of view, is attack, attack, attack, insinuate, and then basically invigorate hatred, spew, call you names, wants to get a reaction, wants a fight,” he said. “It’s not who we are. We didn’t become this country like that.”
Manchin said when Trump was elected in 2016, he tried to work with him, but that the president’s approach to politics goes against “every grain I understood of what we’re supposed to do in public service.”
“You can’t say, ‘I’m going to take the most powerful office in the world and use it for vengeful purposes,’” he said.
In the sharply divided Senate, Manchin has been instrumental in passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill and drafting the inflation reduction act, which reduced the cost of prescription drugs, offered health care subsidies, and made significant investments in clean energy projects. He also embraced support for carbon sequestration and storage as well as other initiatives that benefit the fossil fuel sector.
The reason it was one of the most productive congresses in American history, he claimed, was that Republicans and Democrats had to cooperate.
“There were people upset thinking I had this power. I said, ‘I don’t have any more power than any of the other senators,’” he said. “I can’t figure out why you all won’t use it to do something good for our country and our states we represent.”
Manchin is the last in a line of powerful West Virginia Democrats who advocated for coal interests in Washington, something that has become untenable as the progressive party has embraced clean energy and the transition away from fossil fuels.
He said when he first came to the Senate, he was asked, “What happened to the West Virginia Democrat?
“I said, ‘They want to know what happened to the Washington Democrat,’’’ Manchin said. ”The West Virginia Democrats still worked hard, they mined the coal, made the steel, built the guns and ships, they gave everything they have, shed more blood, lost more lives for the cause of freedom than most any state, but all of a sudden, we’re not good enough, green enough, clean enough or smart enough. And they got sick and tired of it.”