(NewsNation) — Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin offered lukewarm support for President Joe Biden’s running for re-election in a new interview released Thursday, just one day after striking a new deal on climate, healthcare and taxes.
In an exclusive interview on The Chris Cuomo Project, a podcast by incoming NewsNation anchor Chris Cuomo, the West Virginia senator hedged around who he would support in the impending 2024 presidential election.
“I don’t know who is going to be running. If Joe Biden runs again and he is the Democratic nominee, depending on who the Republican nominee is, we will just have to wait and see,” Manchin told Cuomo. “I am not predicting anything or how I would support or not support, or get involved or not. But I can tell you this, whoever the elected president is — Democrat, Republican, independent — every one of us should pray they succeed. I am going to do everything I can to make that person successful.”
Cuomo pressed Manchin: “I don’t think I have ever heard a sitting senator that is a member of a party not automatically say: ‘Oh yeah, the sitting president is in my party, I’m for them.'”
Manchin responded: “Well, I don’t know what to tell you on that. I’m always for the right person when they’re running.”
Manchin said he believes people in West Virginia will not support a national democratic figure right now.
“I believe that basically, the people will make a decision state by state,” Manchin said.
Cuomo then followed up: “I asked you: What do you say to them?”
Manchin responded: “What would I say to them is to pick the person. I know Joe Biden to be a good person.”
Although he is a Democrat, Manchin has faced scrutiny from those on the left as he’s used his pivotal vote in the 50-50 Senate to force Biden and Democrats to abandon more ambitious versions of legislation addressing a number of issues. Last week, he pulled out of negotiations over climate legislation, blaming persistent high inflation for his hesitancy to go along with another spending package. He’s been a prominent critic of the Build Back Better agenda that’s been touted by the White House as well, while repeatedly saying he remains open to talks to craft a smaller bill.
Manchin told Cuomo that he urged the Biden Administration to cut down their plans for Build Back Better, which include provisions for everything from reducing carbon emissions, to education, to federal health care subsidies. On the podcast, Manchin said he “knew games were being played.”
However, Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Wednesday they were able to reach an agreement on a package including health care, energy and climate issues, taxes on high earners and corporations, and federal debt reduction. A deal like this has been eluding the two for months now, especially as just hours earlier, the two senators had reportedly been at loggerheads, with Manchin insisting the package be far narrower.
Biden declared his support for the agreement struck by Schumer and Manchin on Thursday, saying the bill will be a “godsend” for American families.
Manchin noted the lack of an energy policy “is very detrimental to our country.” While Manchin said everyone shares blame for inflation right now, he specifically called out the issues with the Fed and the Biden administration’s inability to see inflation coming.
The White House maintains that Biden and Manchin are longtime friends who deal with each other in good faith, as Politico reported, though the publication noted White House aides and Democrats were “furious” over what they have seen as acts of sabotage by the senator.
Cuomo asked Manchin multiple times if he has plans for a presidential run himself, but the senator did not say whether he would. Manchin did reiterate where he puts his support is still up for grabs.
“Who I help get there or how I get involved will be a different story,” Manchin said, adding that his goal is to “continue to fight like the dickens for a more perfect union.”
The latest NewsNation poll found Biden’s approval rating remains low, reporting that 57% of voters surveyed disapprove of how he’s handled the job so far. More than 60% of all voters said he shouldn’t run, including 30% of Democrats polled.
However, voters don’t necessarily want former President Donald Trump, who ran against Biden in 2020, to put his hat back in the ring either — around 57% of all voters asked said he should sit out 2024.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.