Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has attracted the ire of some colleagues within his own party. By his own admission, he finds himself constantly courted by Senate Republicans looking to bring him into their caucus.
On one occasion, Manchin even told the Republicans how to win him over, according to a bombshell excerpt from an upcoming book.
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Reporters Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin have been promoting their new book This Shall Not Pass, a historical account of Joe Biden’s first year as president.
According to an excerpt obtained by CNN, Manchin will switch parties… if South Dakota Sen. John Thune unseats Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell as Republican leader.
The book says, according to CNN:
Thune suggested Manchin would likely be rewarded for taking such a step [and switching parties]: You could write your own ticket, the South Dakotan told him. Chair a committee, we’ll help you raise money for your campaign.
Manchin heard them out and gave Thune a politically deft response.
“John,” he said, “if you were the leader I would do it.”
However, Manchin later distanced himself from these remarks. Speaking to CNN that day, he dismissed the promise as a joke.
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“Not that I can remem — no, we talk all the time, we have dinners together and all that. No, they’re always kidding back and forth,” Manchin told CNN on Thursday.
Thune also described the remark as “good humor” when speaking to reporters Thursday, according to CNN.
Plus, Manchin took the opportunity to express his Democrat bona fides.
“John Thune is the most decent human being, a good friend of mine. But no, they know where I’m at. And Mitch McConnell knows he’s tried everything humanly possible. The bottom line is I am a West Virginia Democrat,” Manchin told reporters, according to CNN and The Hill. “I’m not a Washington Democrat. And I’m not a very liberal person. I’m more of a centrist. I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate.”
“Anything we can do along the lines we did on the infrastructure bill would be great if we could,” Manchin told The Hill Friday.
The West Virginia Democrat appeared nonplussed by all the speculation about switching parties. “I get that question every day,” Manchin told reporters, according to The Hill. “These are all my friends on both sides of the aisle.”
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Manchin’s inner circle also expects him to remain a Democrat.
“He’s the exact same person he’s always been. It’s just that he’s getting more attention in the last year than I think he ever had before,” Jonathan Kott, a former employee of Manchin, said on The New Abnormal Friday.
“He doesn’t really care about party affiliation and is just focused on what he’s hearing from his constituents. And that’s basically how he handles his votes. He goes home most weekends. He talks to as many people as he can, comes back and decides how he’s gonna vote. And that’s basically what he does.”
Still, Manchin appears hesitant to vote for the Senate Democrats’ new bill, a budget reconciliation full of Biden’s priorities on energy policy.
Manchin said takes issue with the bill for attracting too few Republican votes. He would prefer a bipartisan bill, like last year’s infrastructure law.
“We’re determined to do something on a path to reliable energy so we have reliable energy for our country,” Manchin told The Hill Friday. “Anything we can do along the lines we did on the infrastructure bill would be great if we could… I want to work in a bipartisan way… We’re trying to get input from everybody. I want input.”
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Manchin continues to limit the reach of the Senate Democrats, despite remaining in their party. Meanwhile, he has seen his approval rating increase by 17 points since March 2021, according to a Morning Consult poll released Monday.
Manchin is up for reelection in 2024. Judging by that poll, Manchin may continue limiting the Senate Democrats until 2030.
The Horn editorial team