Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W. Va.) is among a handful of senators whose votes will likely be crucial in the confirmation of the next Supreme Court justice.
Manchin, along with Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), met with President Donald Trump on Thursday at his request to get their input on filling the vacancy that will be created by Justice Anthony Kennedy's announced retirement, The Hill reported.
Manchin, who is running for re-election, faces a challenge from the right by state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R). The incumbent senator has a 7-point lead over Morrisey, according to the Monmouth University poll published June 20.
Many Democrats fear the president will choose a nominee who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that guaranteed women’s legal right to an abortion. Trump has said he will announce his nominee on July 9.
Why is Manchin's Supreme Court vote important?
Manchin has called himself an ally of Trump and said he would be open to backing the president in his 2020 re-election bid.
He has crossed party lines and voted with Republicans on a number of issues, including Trump's proposed border wall. He also voted to confirm Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Trump's first Supreme Court pick, last year.
On Friday, during an interview with West Virginia MetroNews' "Talkline" radio show, Manchin said he spent 30 minutes speaking with Trump and two of his aides the night before.
“I said I’d like to see someone who is a centrist. You give me a constitutionalist that believes in the rule of law and is centrist and moderate,” Manchin said he told the president.
Manchin believes Trump will have a tough time securing a nominee whose goal is to reverse abortion laws.
“I’m pro-life, but I know how [abortion] divides our country. If he picks somebody that’s hardcore on Roe v. Wade or that’s hardcore on repealing health care, that’s a bigger lift," the senator said.
"All of that stuff is red flags for all Americans. And I think he needs to get a jurist basically looking at the law. The Roe v. Wade has been the law for 40-some years," Manchin continued.
How could this effect Manchin's re-election?
In a state with strong support for Trump, voting against the president's nominee could cost Manchin votes from centrists in November.
Trump beat then presidential nominee Hillary Clinton by 42 points in 2016, according to Ballotpedia.
Senate Republicans have a 51-49 majority, but it's narrowed to 50-49 without the vote of Sen. John McCain (R), who's battling brain cancer.
Democrats will be lobbying heavily to pull enough Republicans over to stall the president's nominee. Murkowski and Collins have crossed party lines over health care and abortion issues.
Meanwhile, Republicans will be targeting senators in swing and red states to help confirm a conservative nominee.