(CNN)Vice President Mike Pence is publicly criticizing Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat up for re-election this year in one of America's reddest states, ahead of a speech in the senator's backyard Wednesday night.
Mike Pence targets vulnerable Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin
Pence, who's in West Virginia to address the Republican members of Congress during their retreat at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, went after Manchin on Twitter.
Using the hash tag #JoeVotedNo, Pence tweeted, "in WV a few months ago & I spoke to the WV Chamber of Commerce. @Sen_JoeManchin was there -- & I looked him in the eye and I told him, 'Joe, the people of the Mountain State are counting on you,' so let's 'get this tax cut done together.' But #JoeVotedNo."
Manchin, in a statement responding to Pence's attack, hit the vice president for major Republican initiatives that he said would devastate West Virginians, and contrasted Pence's attack with President Donald Trump's State of the Union call "for unity and bipartisanship."
"The Vice President's comments are exactly why Washington Sucks," Manchin said. "I'm disappointed in his comments but will continue to work to make Washington work so West Virginia and our country work."
Pence's attack highlights Manchin's voting against Republicans' tax bill, which passed last year without any support from Democrats. During the tax overhaul's debate in Congress, the White House lobbied for red state Democratic senators to support the legislation, but none did.
"Joe Manchin voted NO to letting hard working families keep more of their hard-earned money," Pence wrote in one of a series of tweets Wednesday evening. "Joe voted NO on TAX CUTS for job creators. #JoeVotedNo.When the time came to repeal & replace the disaster of Obamacare, Joe voted NO. When we empowered West Virginia to defund Planned Parenthood, Joe voted NO. And when it comes to securing our Southern border, Joe said, 'I'm not voting for the wall, either.' #JoeVotedNo"
Manchin has had an on-again-off-again relationship to Trump, who won Manchin's state by more than 40 percentage points over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. He sided with Republicans on key votes besides taxes, such as the nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general and the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch. He's also met with Trump on immigration.
Against the backdrop of his re-election fight, Manchin stood and applauded, unlike other Democrats during Trump's State of the Union on Tuesday night.
Manchin told CNN's "New Day" Wednesday morning, "I can stand up and still disagree."
"The President laid out some things that I can work with," he continued. "He talked about opiates -- I've got a serious problem in my state and my country. We need the funding. I need to get that funded."
Manchin told CNN's Manu Raju after the State of the Union, "It's not the way I was raised," when asked if Democrats showed respect by not applauding during much of Trump's speech. "I show civility and respect."
He said both sides "are guilty" of doing that.
"I stand and show respect for the office," Manchin said.