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Manchin up for cabinet post

CONGRESSIONAL PROGNOSTICATION — Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, right, and Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., talk about where President-elect Trump does and does not need Congress — and where the toss-ups are at a panel discussion at the “1787: Constructing The Peace After The War” event on Monday in Washington. -- Associated Press

From staff and wire reports

MORGANTOWN — Following press reports he’s being considered for Republican President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet, West Virginia’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin says he spoke with Trump last week about the nation’s future and how to help his home state.

Press reports citing unnamed sources say Trump’s team has been considering Manchin, a conservative Democrat, for energy secretary and secretary of state.

Manchin, in a statement Monday, didn’t address the Cabinet rumblings but said he assured Trump he’s “willing to work in a bipartisan manner to find common-sense solutions to the serious challenges we face.”

“Last week, President-elect Trump and I had a wide-ranging and constructive conversation about the future of our country and how we can work together to help the state of West Virginia. … I have always believed that public officials must put their state and country first and set aside partisan politics to do what’s right for the people they serve,” Manchin said.

Manchin said he looks forward to continuing the conversation with Trump later this week and public officials should put aside bipartisan politics.

A report in Politico last week identified Manchin and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from fossil fuel-rich North Dakota, as being under consideration for secretary of energy in Trump’s incoming administration.

Then, on Sunday, the New York Times listed Manchin among four people reportedly added to Trump’s list of candidates for secretary of state, the nation’s top diplomatic post and long thought to be the most prestigious position in the Cabinet. The others were former ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, former Utah governor and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman Jr. and Exxon Mobil President and CEO Rex Tillerson.

In the Nov. 8 election, Trump carried West Virginia, capturing 69 percent of the nearly 700,000 votes cast in the Mountain State to almost 27 percent for Democrat Hillary Clinton. He won every one of the state’s 55 counties, including almost 88 percent of the vote in Grant County — his largest margin of victory in the state — to just over 51 percent of the vote in Monongalia County, his slimmest. Trump received no less than 62 percent of the vote in each Northern Panhandle county.

In the days after Trump’s victory, Manchin refused to align with his party’s leader in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who issued a statement Nov. 11 saying Trump’s election “has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America.”

Manchin responded the very same day, calling Reid’s comments an “embarrassment” to the Senate, to the Democratic Party and to the country.

“I want to be very clear, he does not speak for me,” Manchin said. “As difficult as it is for anyone to lose an election, the American people have spoken and Donald Trump is our President-elect. Senator Reid’s words needlessly feed the very divisiveness that is tearing this country apart.”

Manchin served as West Virginia’s secretary of state from 2001 until assuming the governor’s post in 2005. He won a special election in Nov. 2010 to fill the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s seat, and won a full term in 2012.

Manchin would next be up for election in 2018.

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