One of the Obama campaign's top men says Sen. Joe Manchin's recent statements of indecision over whether to support the president in November was for his own political gain.
On CNN today, David Axelrod suggested the West Virginia Democrat made the statements as a security measure while he seeks reelection this fall.
"We didn't win the state the last time," Axelrod said. "It's going to be a tough state for us again, and he's making a political judgment about himself."
In an interview published by the National Journal Thursday, Manchin said he would "look at the options" for Election Day, adding the last three years had "made it pretty rough" for his state of West Virginia. He has since backed away from that statement by leveling a more broad criticism against both Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
"I think he was very candid there," Axelrod said. "His concern is about his own political well-being."
West Virginia has voted Republican in the last three presidential elections. But Manchin, a moderate, enjoys a steady popularity in the Mountain State and is generally considered safe in his incumbency against conservative John Raese.
Axelrod said he hopes the lawmaker will consider national interests and ultimately support the president at the voting booth.
Manchin has a history of bucking the president and his party, particularly on environmental and energy issues such as the Keystone XL pipeline. Earlier this month the senator questioned the effectiveness of Obama's leadership, telling ABC News, "It doesn't seem to be working."