CHARLESTON, West Virginia — Minutes after securing reelection Tuesday night, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin took a harsher tone against President Donald Trump, blasting him for the failure of his Republican challenger, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, an ardent White House ally.
Manchin barbed the president for not being able to get Morrisey over the finish line despite the state having voted for Trump by a margin of more than 40 points in 2016.
“Let me say that I never expected that this race would be the national race it turned out to be,” Manchin said in his victory speech. “I never expected President Trump to come to this state as much as he did, sending Vice President Pence, sending his family, time after time. And you stood tall.
“What you said, what West Virginia said, loud and clear tonight: ‘Mr. President, we want our senator, not your senator,'” Manchin added.
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The incumbent Democrat also condemned “toxic rhetoric” and demanded Trump play a more unifying role.
“When I raise my hand and swear to God to uphold the Constitution, that’s for everybody. That is for everybody. And we’ve got to stop this absolute toxic rhetoric that’s going on in this country — we have got to stop this toxic rhetoric,” he said. “We’ve got to bring people together. Mr. President, I want you to be a president of the United States, not the divided states.”
After his speech, Manchin told Business Insider that “no one’s ever won in a state where the president had a 42-point spread,” repeating his claim that voters rejected Trump’s choice of candidate.
But Manchin said he was not worried that his harsher tone against Trump would upset the president, who often lashes out at critics and those who downplay his status as a GOP kingmaker.
“I’m not angry because he came here so many times,” Manchin said of Trump’s repeated visits to West Virginia to stump for Morrisey. “Why should he be angry that I’m telling the truth? I don’t think so.”
Manchin had previously railed against Vice President Mike Pence for coming to West Virginia, describing him as a “junkyard dog” doing Trump’s bidding.
“I know Mike Pence, and he’s just, I guess, doing his job,” Manchin said. “He’s a junkyard dog right now, I guess. He has to go out and do it.”
Manchin was the only Democrat to vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against the nominee prompted additional hearings and nearly split the vote in the Senate.
In contrast, Morrisey ran on the premise that he would be Trump’s greatest ally in the Senate, even labeling the final leg of his campaign tour as the “Stand with Trump Tour.”
“Everyone who follows the race knows I’m the conservative fire who’s going to advance the Trump jobs agenda, and Joe Manchin’s a dishonest Washington liberal who’s going to empower the ‘impeach, obstruct, and resist’ circus in DC,” Morrisey told Business Insider in an October interview in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
Trump campaigned for Morrisey days before the election at a large rally in Huntington, while his son Donald Trump Jr. stumped for the Republican several times in the final weeks of the cycle.
But, as Manchin said, it was simply not enough.