Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he could potentially endorse President Trump for reelection just a week after he voted to convict the president for abuse of power, according to a report published Thursday.
“Everybody can change,” Manchin told Politico. “Maybe the president will change, you know? Maybe that uniter will come out, versus the divider.”
Manchin said that, although Trump did his best to unseat him in 2018, the two were having lunch together a week after his third-term reelection.
“He said: ‘I knew we couldn’t beat you,'” Manchin said of Trump. “And I said: ‘It wasn’t for lack of trying.’ Boom, it’s over, let it go. I did. I’m asking him to do the same thing I did. He tried to remove me.”
Manchin, a conservative Democrat, has been known to cross party lines. In 2018, he was the only Democrat to vote for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and has endorsed Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for reelection, a seat Democrats hope to flip. He also noted he’s voted with Republicans 56 percent of the time.
Trump has hammered Manchin for his impeachment vote on Twitter by calling him “Joe Munchkin,” “weak & pathetic.”
The West Virginia senator said he is waiting to reach out to the White House until things “simmer down.”
Manchin’s vote was especially irritating for Trump since some had thought he might vote with Republicans, making the president's acquittal bipartisan. Instead, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, was the only one to break with his party.
“Lindsey [Graham] had talked about the fact that we were going to get several Democrats. And Joe was one,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said, according to Politico. “He kind of walks this line. There are those in our conference who say he’s always with you except when you need him.”
Manchin said he plans to hold a series of town halls in West Virginia – a state Trump won by 42 percent – to explain his vote to convict. “I owe it to them,” he told Politico.
Graham, R-S.C., said he has attempted to smooth things over between Trump and Manchin, talking to him about his attacks on the Democrat and arguing that Manchin is the Republicans’ best chance for bipartisan support on legislation.
The president “doesn’t believe it today, but there will come a time when we need Joe tomorrow,” Graham told Politico. “We still have a lot to do here. Prescription drugs and a lot of things are gonna be right on the cusp of 60 votes.”
Manchin said he was inclined to vote to acquit Trump at the beginning of the trial but the evidence made it impossible for him. He was also critical of Trump’s performance during the State of the Union last week.
“I saw the State of the Union, and I said: ‘It’s not who we are.’ There’s so many good things that we can do better. I hope he changes,” Manchin told Politico. “I’m looking for that person that has heart and soul and compassion.”