According to New York Times reporter Alex Burns, the GOP has attempted outreach to Sen. Joe Manchin (D. WV) about switching parties, though Manchin himself said he never seriously considered it, describing it as a joke between himself and a few Republican senators.
Burns, along with Jonathan Martin reported in a forthcoming book that Manchin told Sen. John Thune (R. NV) that he would switch parties if he (Thune) were the parties’ leader instead of current leader Mitch McConnell (R. KY).
Manchin downplayed the comment, noting that many of his friends in congress who are Republicans frequently rib him on joining their party.
Manchin joining the GOP or going independent the current 50-50 Senate would be enough to give Republicans control of the chamber and make McConnell the majority leader once again.
“They are always kidding back and forth. They would love for me — I said, ‘Guys listen, I am who I am, I’m a West Virginia Democrat.”
Burns’ and Martins’ book, “This Shall Not Pass,” reports that Thune pitched Manchin the idea of not formally joining Republicans, but rather becoming and independent and caucusing with the GOP.
Manchin said that he couldn’t recall telling Thune that he would switch parties if her were leader, but did say that he spends time with Thune and other Republican senators:
“I get that question every day. These are all my friends… John Thune is a most decent human being and a good friend of mine. But no. If people want to read into whatever conversations we have, they can read into it. But they all know who I am.”
Questions about if Manchin switching parties has circulated for months, as he has continually sided with Republicans to thwart President Joe Biden’s policies and agenda.
Manchin did once, not so long ago, tell The Hill that while he did not intend to leave his party, if it became “embarrassing” for them for him to remain a Democrat that he would switch to an independent.
Thune also said that he had taken it as a joke, “in the good humor it was intended” and part of the “banter back and forth that we have.”