Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is trying to coax Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) into ditching the Democratic Party after the West Virginia lawmaker tanked President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan on Sunday.
McConnell openly lobbied Manchin to join the GOP during an interview with right-wing radio commentator Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday.
“I think what Manchin is discovering is that there just aren’t any Democrats left in the Senate that are pro-life and terribly concerned about debt and deficit and inflation. So he feels like a man alone,” the Republican leader said. “If he were to join us, he’d be joining a lot of folks who have similar views on a whole range of issues.”
McConnell also dangled the possibility of Manchin keeping his seat as the chair of the Senate Energy Committee if the West Virginia lawmaker were to switch sides.
The GOP senator put out a similar entreaty the previous day during a New York Times interview in which he painted Manchin as a besieged victim of his fellow Democrats and President Joe Biden.
“Why in the world would they want to call him a liar and try to hotbox him and embarrass him?” the Republican leader asked. “I think the message is, ‘We don’t want you around.’ Obviously that is up to Joe Manchin, but he is clearly not welcome on that side of the aisle.”
Manchin would be “more comfortable” in the Republican Party, McConnell argued.
“Obviously we would love to have him on our team,” he said.
No kidding; not only would the GOP regain control of the Senate if Manchin were to defect from the Democrats, McConnell would become the chamber’s majority leader again.
McConnell also gave a shout-out to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), another major roadblock to passing Democrats’ agenda thanks to her refusal to get rid of the filibuster.
“Kyrsten Sinema has been quite unequivocal that she is not going to break the Senate and eliminate the legislative filibuster,” the GOP senator said. “Thank goodness for that.”
McConnell isn’t the only Republican senator to pounce on Democrats’ frustration with Manchin over BBB: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) also revealed during an interview with local outlet Nexstar on Tuesday that he had texted Manchin that morning telling him that “Joe, if they don’t want you we do.”
Manchin joining their ranks would be “the greatest Christmas gift I can think of,” Cornyn said.
For his part, the West Virginia Democrat has publicly rebuffed calls to defect to the GOP. There was some chatter about him switching to being an independent, but Manchin bluntly shot down the rumors as “bullshit.”
However, Manchin did say that he once had a discussion with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in which the West Virginian offered to become an independent if he was an “embarrassment” to the party. In the scenario he floated, per Manchin’s retelling, he would still caucus with Democrats.