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Trump stands behind Morrisey at Charleston rally

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When President Donald Trump last held a rally at the Charleston Civic Center in May 2016, he was touting his platform and plans to “Make America Great Again.”

When Trump returned to the Civic Center Tuesday, he told the crowd he was looking to continue his agenda leading up to and following the midterm elections, but he cannot do it alone.

“We need to elect five, six or even seven more senators, and I think we can do it. And we have to start with Patrick Morrisey,” Trump said to a cheering audience. “He’s going to be fantastic.”

Trump’s sixth visit to West Virginia comes as Morrisey, West Virginia’s attorney general, prepares himself for the final two months of this year’s Senate contest. Morrisey is running against the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Joe Manchin.

“He does not stop, and he’s going to fight for you like nobody’s ever fought for the people of West Virginia,” Trump said of Morrisey.

Morrisey survived a six-man primary race in May, which included stiff competition from U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., and former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. Morrisey, who was first elected as attorney general in 2012, painted himself as a Trump ally.

“Donald Trump and I are fighting every day for the coal miners and the hard-working men and women of our state,” Morrisey said. “He’s trying to get the man off your back, and I’m working every day to help him do it.”

“West Virginia needs to send a conservative fighter to the U.S. Senate to help drain that swamp,” he added, which was met with chants of “drain the swamp.”

Morrisey said Manchin — who he called “dishonest, liberal Joe Manchin” to boos — does not support the president’s platform, pointing out his vote in December against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

“Remember, this is West Virginia. We benefited as much as anyone from the Trump tax cuts,” Morrisey said. “Joe Manchin no longer has West Virginia values. Period. When I get to the U.S. Senate, I’m going to be a strong ally to President Trump. I’m going to be a conservative fighter you can rely on. We’re going to stand up for coal and our energy resources, and we’re going to tackle this opioid epidemic more aggressively than anyone.”

Trump, who considered Manchin for cabinet positions, said Manchin has not done anything for the state while in public office.

“He voted against tax cuts, he voted against repeal and replace. He votes against the things that we want, and he votes against the people of West Virginia. You can’t do that,” he said. “You know, Joe opposed the wall and he opposed the travel ban.”

According to polling organization FiveThirtyEight, Manchin has voted 60.5 percent in line with Trump’s agenda, the highest ranking among Senate Democrats.

Manchin told MetroNews in June he supports building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a broader immigration effort. Manchin said last year he was against an early version of the travel plan on the grounds of freedom of religion.

Gov. Jim Justice, who announced last August his switch to the Republican Party, thew his support behind Morrisey as well as U.S. Reps. David McKinley and Alex Mooney, and state Delegate Carol Miller, R-Cabell, in their respective House of Representative races.

“Patrick Morrisey is a little behind right now. He needs you. He needs all of you. He needs all of you to be warriors and deputies for him,” the governor said standing next to Trump. “He can win this, and this man needs him.”

On the House races, Justice spent extra time on the 3rd Congressional District contest between Miller and state Sen. Richard Ojeda, D-Logan.

“Whatever we do to God above, we cannot put Ojeda on this man,” the governor said.

Ojeda spent Tuesday in Huntington taking part in an economic diversity event with Reps. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Ro Khanna, D-Calif., in addition to Huntington Mayor Steve Williams.

Trump said he plans on visiting West Virginia again before Election Day, adding this election means more than just picking up seats.

“A blue wave in November means open borders and massive crime. A red wave means safety and strength, that’s what it is,” he said.

In a video released before the rally, Manchin said Trump would be unable to protect Morrisey from the attorney general’s record. The first item Manchin noted was Morrisey’s remarks in March about possibly using his office to end the statewide teacher’s strike.

“Patrick Morrisey has been fighting against all of our educators, our teachers, school service personnel, our administrators, and basically trying to put them in jail for just fighting for their rights to have a better education system in West Virginia,” Manchin said.

The senator also attacked Morrisey for leading a lawsuit that argues the federal health care law is unconstitutional. The lawsuit states because of the repeal of the individual mandate as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the statute is no longer lawful.

Manchin has repeatedly said striking down “Obamacare” would put nearly 800,000 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions at risk of losing their health insurance.

“You can’t hide that, what Patrick Morrisey’s trying to do to our people in West Virginia,” he said.

Morrisey secured an endorsement Tuesday from the West Virginia Coal Association, who endorsed Manchin in the 2010 and 2012 elections.

“Since he took office, General Morrisey has been a tireless advocate for West Virginia’s coal industry. He fought for us against the Obama Administration, which was using every tool available to try and end coal mining in the United States,” association president Bill Raney said in a statement. “We know Patrick Morrisey will continue to fight for West Virginia coal as a member of the U.S. Senate, working in tandem with President Donald Trump.”

Manchin, who the United Mine Workers of America endorsed, said the coal association is not focused on uniting West Virginians.

“I will never waver from supporting the hard-working West Virginians who mine the coal that powers our country. I’ve never made support for West Virginia coal political,” he said. “So it’s sad that the Coal Association wants to divide our state for political gain.”

Manchin has led Morrisey in all but one poll released since the primary election. Sabato’s Crystal Ball, which is part of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, rates the contest as “leans Democrat” while the Cook Political Report reports the matchup as a “toss-up.”