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Manchin won’t say if he would support Biden in 2024

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) arrives at a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on July 21. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) would not commit to supporting President Biden for reelection in 2024 during multiple interviews on Sunday, saying he was “not getting involved in that.”

Manchin also refused to say whether he hoped Democrats would keep control of the House and the Senate after this year’s midterm elections, insisting that he could work with lawmakers from either party.

“You know, I’m not making those choices or decisions on that. I’m going to work with whatever I have,” Manchin said on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” when asked about Democrats’ prospects in the midterms.

“I think the Democrats have great candidates that are running. They’re good people I’ve worked with,” he added. “And I have a tremendous amount of respect and friendship with my Republican colleagues. So I can work on either side very easily.”

When asked to clarify whether he did not care about the outcome of the midterm elections, Manchin stayed circumspect.

“Whatever the voters choose. I can’t decide what’s going to happen in Kansas or California or Texas. I really can’t,” he said. “I’ve always taken the approach: Whoever you send me, that’s your representative and I respect them. And I respect the state for the people they send, and I give it my best to work with them, to do the best for my country. I don’t play the politics that way. I don’t like it that way. That’s not who I am.”

On ABC News’s “This Week,” Manchin was similarly noncommittal when host Jonathan Karl asked whether he would commit to supporting Biden if he is the Democratic presidential nominee in 2024.

“Everybody’s worried about the election. That’s the problem,” Manchin replied. “It’s a 2022 election, 2024 election. I’m not getting involved in …”

“No, no, but this is a simple question,” Karl interrupted. “Would you …”

“It’s not. I’m not getting involved in that, Jon,” Manchin said. “I’m really not.”

In an evenly divided Senate, key parts of Biden’s agenda have often succeeded or failed on Manchin’s leaning. Last year, Manchin said he would not support federal voting rights legislation that his party argued was critical for preserving democracy, and the senator from West Virginia almost single-handedly put the brakes on Biden’s Build Back Better plan, a $2 trillion social spending package.

Manchin’s equivocations on Biden and his own party came as he appeared on all five major Sunday political shows to promote his role in the success of one of the president’s initiatives. He made similar comments last week in response to questioning from former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo on his podcast, “The Chris Cuomo Project.”

Manchin called Biden a “good person” but criticized him for his energy policies, saying he should have zeroed in on inflation as a major issue sooner.

“I don’t know if Joe Biden runs again and he’s the Democrat nominee, depending on who the Republican nominee is,” Manchin told Cuomo. “Uh, you know, we just have to wait and see. I’m not predicting anything.”

On Wednesday night, Manchin announced that he had brokered a surprise deal with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the Inflation Reduction Act, a massive climate, health-care and taxes bill. Though smaller than the Build Back Better plan, the new legislation still aims to achieve many of the same goals, including lowering prescription drug prices, establishing a corporate minimum tax and spending about $433 billion on climate change and clean energy production.

“This type of legislation wouldn’t happen unless the president of the United States was involved,” Manchin said on “This Week.” “And he gave — he gave his blessing and signed off on it. I can assure you that. And I appreciate that more than anybody knows, because this has been tough.”

Karl then asked whether Manchin would rule out voting for a Republican for president. Manchin paused briefly.

“I’m not getting into the 2024 election,” he said. After some additional back and forth, Manchin added: “It’s been a long haul. So I’m not going — I’m not getting into the 2022 or 2024. Whoever is my president, that’s my president. And Joe Biden’s my president right now.”

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Manchin was asked whether he would back Biden in 2024.

“I’m not getting involved in any election right now: 2022, 2024, I’m not speculating on [that],” Manchin said. “President Biden is my president right now. I’m going to work with him and his administration, to the best of my ability.”

John Wagner, Tony Romm and Christian Davenport contributed to this report.

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