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.
The moderate West Virginia Democrat said Wednesday that he would never want to be a “spoiler” who contributed to getting any other candidate elected. But he said he would do what he had to in order to save the country.
“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.”
But Manchin reserved his harshest comments for Trump, who won every one of West Virginia’s 55 counties in both 2016 and 2020, making it one of the former president’s most loyal states. Manchin said it would be “dangerous” to give Trump another term.
“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.
Manchin’s condemnation of Trump came less than a week after the senator, who was a state lawmaker, secretary of state and governor of once-deep-blue West Virginia before being elected to the Senate in 2010, announced he would not pursue another term because of frustration with the political divide in U.S politics.
Manchin would have had a difficult path to reelection as the only remaining Democratic statewide officeholder in West Virginia, likely running against either GOP U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney or Gov. Jim Justice, both loyal Trump supporters.
Since his decision not to run for reelection next week, political pundits have speculated that Manchin might be eyeing a potential presidential run as a candidate with No labels. Manchin has long been friendly with No Labels, which has already begun holding private conversations with potential presidential nominees, Manchin among them.
A group pushing for Manchin to partner with retiring Utah Sen. Mitt Romney to seek a third-party presidential bid independently filed paperwork to form a formal draft committee with the Federal Election Commission on the same day Manchin announced he wouldn’t vie to return to the Senate.
Manchin said he has yet to make any decision about his next steps, but repeated his vow to travel the country to gauge interest in a centrist political movement.