(CNN) – As a Democrat in conservative West Virginia, Sen. Joe Manchin has sought to make his independence clear.
And that independence might just extend all the way to the November voting booth, as the senator – who is up for re-election - said in a report published Thursday that he might not cast a ballot for the top name on his party's ticket, President Barack Obama.
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"Right now in West Virginia, these first three and a half years haven't been that good to West Virginia," he said of the Obama presidency this week, according to a report in the National Journal. "So, then you look [at] what the options will be, who will be on the other end."
Manchin expressed reservations about GOP candidate Mitt Romney, and said he would base his eventual decision on what is best for his constituents, who look at "the performance and the result that's been attained."
In a statement to CNN, Manchin said his comments were nothing new.
"I have some real differences with both Governor Romney and the President, as I have said many times," he said in the statement. "I think there are many West Virginians like me who have deep concerns about Governor Romney understanding the challenges ordinary people face. And there are many West Virginians who believe that he's out of touch, especially because of his plan to end Medicare as we know it and privatize Social Security."
His differences with Obama include energy policy and "the need to get our financial house in order."
The former West Virginia governor is known for bucking not only the opposition party, but his own – even literally shooting a rifle through a Democratic-backed cap and trade bill in his 2010 Senate campaign.
That race was a special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd, and Manchin's support from Republicans and Independents was key to his 11-point defeat of former state GOP chair John Raese.
Manchin was one of about a dozen Democrats to side in a March vote with Republicans on the Keystone XL pipeline. He voted against both parties' bills to raise the federal government's debt ceiling in the heated showdown last summer.
He was also one of about a dozen Democrats to vote against their party in the March Senate vote on the Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama was no fan of.
But national Republicans point out that when Obama first ran for the White House in 2008, Manchin was a supporter of the then-senator from Illinois. They say that Manchin started becoming more vocal in his opposition to the administration only after he decided to run for the Senate in 2010.
"No amount of election-year rhetoric from Senator Manchin will cause voters in West Virginia to forget that three years ago he unabashedly supported President Obama, while predicting great things for West Virginia under his Administration. Instead of trying to put distance between he and the President as they both face re-election, Senator Manchin should be more focused on a simple, three word message to his constituents – 'I am sorry,'" National Republican Senatorial Campaign Communications Director Brian Walsh told CNN.
Manchin said that regardless of ideology, "I strongly believe that every American should always be rooting for our President to do well, no matter which political party that he or she might belong to."
He was formerly the two-term governor of the state, and is again running against Raese. Two of the top non-partisan political handicappers, the Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Political Report, say that as of now, the seat is likely to stay in Democratic hands.
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There are fundamental beliefs that make us Democrats: Taking guns off the streets, freedom of choice, separation of church and state, healthcare for EVERYONE and that the rich need to pay more than the rest of us. -It's really that simple. I don't agree with everything about the democratic party but I believe in that. If you don't believe in those principles than you are NOT a democrat and we don't want you and we need to replace you. I feel sorry for my fellow democrats in WVA. The president should seize this and use it against him and as a rallying cry for the base.
Another two faced politician looking to retire with all the benefits. Do or say whatever it takes to get re elected. If you are part of a party you should have the guts to back it. How pathetic.
The seat is not in Democratic hands now.
Ron I agree with you let him vote for Mitt who looks like a teenager who will be trotting around the country following the President rebutting. In my book this game is called FOLLOW THE LEADER. He does not have an agenda of his own everything he says is negative comments about the President.
Let him explain why his money is in Swiss banks and other countries and release his tax return. I call him slick Mitt he doesn't care about the middle class he is only doing what he is told. Is this who you want for the next President?
The seat is not in Democratic hands now, so it can hardly stay that way. And what is that nonsense about privatizing Social Security?
This DINO must go. He sounds like flip-flop Romney's brother, without a core and blows with the polls. The last thing voters need is another spineless politician, who is only pandering for votes.
Nobody ever accused wv of being the smartest state
He is officially making my skin crawl now! Run as an independent or Republican but don't pretend to be a Democrat in order to get elected. I wish they're was time to run another Dem against him.
Once voted for Obama, will Never Again Vote for Obama. He has failed on the economy. Don't believe Obama has potential to solve problems facing the economy and related areas. Don't believe any of his new policies that he is pushing for election attention will be any good. He has 3 years and he failed. Period.
Duty as a Democrat? Wow! Party uber alles, eh? Ron – "He's from WV..." Stereotype people very much? Seems that you are doing exactly the same thing you are accusing Joe of doing.
Myeb the Senator realizes tha we need real leadership in the White House. Not the election year gimmicks that Obama has been focusing on – like the Buffet Rule. 5 billion a year agaisnt 1 15 trillion dollar debt. And that's it, it's all he has
The problem with Joe is the problem with Mitt, who is the real Joe Manchin? I understand he is up for reelection and must pander for votes, but if he cannot find the courage of conviction he should step aside and let someone else try. Joe admits things have improved under Obama yet for reelection reasons Joe is doing what too many modern politicians do, they sell out what little conviction they have are more worried about their own political future than standing up for their party, personal conviction or both. Go home Joe, you are self serving and the only person that needs you in office is you0.
I am from WV. Republicans have found a method to make inhabitants vote against the economic interest of the state.
It's West Virginia !! Arm pit of the east and a bunch of hillbillys. Who Cares ????
Get this turncoat out of office. He has voted with the Repubes too many times on important matters. He should run as a Repube. Kick him out!!
there has never been a mixed race president in white house before; therefore, he was fully a democrat. now, he is showing his true color. DINO= democrat in name only. what does'nt he do everybody a favor and switch party.
Maybe he should look at Ron Paul.
As long as we keep voting ANY Republicans into Congress, there will be no fix to our economy. They are there to protect the "status-quo" (the Rich getting richer and the Poor getting poorer). Don't blame Obama. Jesus Christ couldn't get anything done with such a divided government.
Vote the traitor out!
Obviously Joe has a grudge against President Obama being against the XL Keystone pipeline. Maybe WV people are for it because it would create some jobs but at what expense? There are many people in various states against it because it could contaminate water supplies that people drink and use to irrigate their crops! It's pretty sad that he is so narrow-minded that all he can see is what may be good for WV and hell with the rest of the US.
Obviously, this guy is holding a grudge against President Obama for not oking the XL Keystone pipeline. I can understand him being concerned about people in his state finding jobs but it's a good thing he is not the President! He would be accused of "special interests" as he is not looking at the overall picture. There are people in many other states this pipeline would effect that are against it because it could contaminate ground water used for drinking and to irrigate crops! He is being narrow-minded.