CHARLESTON, W.Va. - U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican John Raese both said President Barack Obama has not earned West Virginians' votes in the upcoming presidential election.
But Manchin, D-W.Va., remains silent over which presidential candidate will get his vote on Nov. 6.
Both men met with the Daily Mail editorial board Monday morning to discuss their own race for the U.S. Senate race, but they were also asked about the presidential race.
Raese said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would be better for the country because, like him, Romney has a business background and believes in personal responsibility.
Raese described the last four years of the Obama administration as an "utter failure" and said it would be "ludicrous" to re-elect him.
Manchin said he was "very disappointed" that Obama did not take the mandate he received in the 2008 election to turn around the country's fiscal problems. He also said he was "totally in disagreement" with the administration's energy policies.
But he would not say whether he would support Romney in November.
"I'm disappointed with both, truly, both candidates we have right now," Manchin said.
Manchin said he felt like many other West Virginians, who do not like the president's environmental policies but also do not agree with Romney's approach.
Manchin said he didn't like Romney's "trickle-down" methods, nor did he like vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan's proposals to privatize Social Security and turn Medicare into a voucher system.
Manchin refused to say which candidate would get his vote and vowed that he wouldn't answer that question at any point between now and Election Day. He said he would be willing to work with the man elected to solve the country's financial problems.
While he wouldn't say for whom he would vote, when the question was rephrased to ask whether he thought Obama had earned the votes of West Virginians, Manchin's answer was firm.
"I don't think he's earned West Virginia's votes, I can assure you," he said. "The War On Coal is real, I mean that with all my heart."
But Manchin said the recent television ad showing Romney pointing toward a coal-fired power plant and saying, "That plant kills people," did not make him feel like Romney was in West Virginia's corner.
"We don't have anyone out there right now," he said.
This year's contest is a rematch of the 2010 special election to fill the final two years of late-Sen. Robert C. Byrd's term. Manchin defeated Raese by a 53 to 43 percent margin in that race.
Just as he did in 2010, Raese has been trying to equate a vote for lifelong Democrat Manchin with a vote for Obama, who remains deeply unpopular across the state.
While Manchin is seen as a conservative Democrat, Raese said that doesn't matter in the context of Washington politics.
"Joe has a situation; Joe's on the wrong team," Raese said.
That team, Raese said, is made up of liberal Democrats like Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
While he knows Manchin is more conservative than those three, Raese said Manchin has been unable to stand up against their policies.