Mitt Romney endorses Joe Manchin, snubbing Trump

 April 28, 2023

Senator Mitt Romney (R) is backing Democrat Joe Manchin in his pivotal Senate race next year.

It's yet another "bipartisan" Romney snub to Donald Trump, who has built a connection with Manchin's likely Republican challenger, Governor Jim Justice (Wv.).

"I won’t in any way campaign against my friend Joe Manchin. He’s a great friend, a good leader," he said.

In this case, Romney isn't just snubbing Trump. He's also breaking with most Senate Republicans, who see Justice as an ideal candidate for taking Manchin's seat and winning back control of the Senate.

Romney backs "friend" Manchin

Justice enters the race with a strong hand: he's a popular governor in a state that loves President Trump. In the 2020 election, Trump won West Virginia by 40 points.

Manchin's junior colleague Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, said, "This is about control of the U.S. Senate, and that’s my focus here."

Justice announced his candidacy at a rally Thursday with Capito, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-Sc.), and Justice's bulldog, Babydog.

"I'm hung up on the truth. I am hung up on being a patriot," Justice said.

While he's got most of the GOP behind him, Justice will face a primary challenge from Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Wv.). Justice would be a formidable opponent for Manchin, who won re-election in 2018 by 3 points.

Manchin splits himself in half

Like Romney, Manchin has often touted "compromise" and so-called bipartisanship, but his efforts to split himself in half could cost him his seat.

While often characterized as an unreliable Democrat, Manchin was critical to passing Biden's big climate bill, the Inflation Reduction Act. Manchin is now racing to win back some goodwill from voters in West Virginia, a fossil fuel state where Biden has all the popularity of a stomach ulcer.

Justice said Manchin's vote "could very well cost tens of thousands of job opportunities in this state." Manchin is threatening to help repeal the climate law he helped pass, saying Biden misled him and the country.

"This was about energy security, and we have not heard a word about energy security out of their mouths since it was passed. It’s all about the environment,” he told Fox News' Hannity. 

While Manchin hasn't said whether he'll run for the Senate again, he has pledged to "win any race I enter."

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