Manchin plays coy on whether Joe Biden or Nikki Haley should be president

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) avoided endorsing President Joe Biden or Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley when asked in an interview Monday who would be a better president. 

“Well, I’m not going to say who would be a better president,” Manchin told CNN’s Kasie Hunt. “I know that Nikki Haley is in the fight, and I think she’s done a tremendous job so far, and she’s holding her ground. She’s speaking truth to power and not afraid to go head-to-head with Donald Trump. And we’ll just see what ends up,” the Democratic senator said during the interview. 

Manchin, who previously teased a third-party presidential bid, announced earlier this month he would not be running for president, saying he didn’t want to be a “spoiler.” The senator has been a staunch critic of Biden, saying he has had “problems with how far left the Democratic Party and this administration has gone.”

Manchin also added that Haley would be an “attractive” candidate for a third-party ticket because she is trying to find a middle ground for both parties. He said he believes the leader of the country should be a centrist and not a part of either extreme. 

Haley has presented herself as the less divisive, centrist alternative to Trump, with polls showing she does better with independents and Democrats than the former president does.  

Despite Haley losing the South Carolina primary on Saturday in her home state to former President Donald Trump, she has vowed to push forward with her campaign, pointing to voters’ “disapproval” of Biden and Trump as the potential presidential nominees in November.  

While Manchin praised Haley in the interview for sticking it out in her run against Trump, he also said he would like to see Biden return to the center after he said he’d gone “too far left.”  

“I would do everything I can to make sure [the Biden administration] come back,” the West Virginia Democrat said. “I think that, basically, they need to know where we’re going to win from. If he’s going to win, he’s got to win by attracting more of the center. … They want that person. They want their representative. They want their president to come back and represent all of America. And that’s where you make your decisions.”  

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In order for Manchin to give Biden his support, the senator told Hunt the president would have to declare a national emergency if the border deal is not successful. 

“The president has a responsibility and, I think, an obligation that if Congress cannot, because of politics, consummate a deal, then he has to declare a national emergency,” Manchin told Newsweek last week. “The border is probably the greatest crisis we face right now.”

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