MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — “We want Joe” echoed through the halls of the Erickson Alumni Center Monday afternoon, but before even taking center stage Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., picked a surprising new target: President Donald Trump.
“Mister President, you need to be the President of everybody, this entire country,” Manchin said. “Not just picking and choosing who you think supports you or whatever, who voted for you. That’s not why you are elected. That’s not the oath you take.”
It was a seemingly rare moment for Manchin, who has often touted his ability to work with the President where other Democrats can’t or won’t. Trump continues to enjoy significantly higher popularity in West Virginia than throughout many other parts of the nation.
Following a week of political violence and threat of political violence — some of which has been attributed to rhetoric and vitriol fueling the flames of division — Manchin called on President Donald Trump to ‘tone down’ his ‘very toxic’ rhetoric.
“Calm down the rhetoric,” Manchin said. “We need to calm it down. People need to know we’re not going to tolerate this divisiveness, this hatred.”
A 56-year-old Florida man, Cesar Sayoc, is in police custody after he was accused of sending pipe bombs to 13 vocal critics of President Trump — including former President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Robert Bowers, 46, a professed neo-Nazi, is also in custody following a shooting spree in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh that killed 11 people Saturday during morning services — an act that some have already been quick to politicize on both sides of the political aisle.
Sayoc was an avowed fan of Trump. Bowers, meanwhile, was attributed in a social media post before the shooting Saturday as not being a fan of Trump. Critics of the President have suggested that Trump’s rhetoric has created a dangerous national environment — ripe for politically-motivated violence.
“We’re the hope of the world,” Manchin said. “You can’t be the hope of the world when you discriminate against people. You can’t be the hope of the world when you basically entertain or basically accept hatred as the new mantra. That’s not who we are.”
Conversely, in Charleston, Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey argued political violence was a result of “crazy” and “radical” leftist rhetoric — citing the ‘obstruct, resist, impeach’ show where “they tried to bring down Brett Kavanaugh.”
“I absolutely believe we should condemn any instances where people are suggesting violence or racist or anti-Semitic behavior,” he said. “We have to do that immediately, but we also need honesty in campaigns and Senator Joe Manchin has not been honest with the people of West Virginia.”
Manchin, telling WAJR he is not worried about the Kavanaugh vote impacting turnout from his base, continued to highlight a point of key contention with his challenger — healthcare.
“This election comes down to absolute differences between me and my opponent,” Joe Manchin said before the rally to WAJR. “I’ve been fighting and will continue to fight for healthcare, fighting for pre-existing conditions so people won’t be thrown off and insurance companies won’t be in charge of their lives like they were before.”
The United Mine Workers of America endorsed Manchin and featured a slew of Democratic and non-partisan Supreme Court candidates during their two-hour rally.
“Patrick Morrisey will not win this election,” UMWA President Cecil Roberts began, “but he will not be a voice for working people. Period.”
Down ballot candidates opened remarks — some more fiery than others — but all eyes were on Manchin.
“Miners have never asked for anything, except just pay them what you owe them,” he said.
President Trump will return to West Virginia later this week, making one final push for Patrick Morrisey’s campaign to unseat Manchin.