(Headline USA) Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., denied reports that he considered leaving the Democrat Party and joining Republicans last year, saying he has never “seriously” considered switching parties.
A new book by New York Times reporters Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin alleged that Manchin said he would caucus with Senate Republicans if there was a change of leadership and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was no longer in charge.
Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and John Thune, R-S.D., reportedly took Manchin to dinner one night to try to convince him to join the GOP, or become an independent and caucus with the GOP. Manchin responded and said he would consider it if Thune was the GOP leader, the book says.
However, Manchin made it clear this week that he never thought of this as a real possibility.
“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,’” he told reporters.
“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,” he continued. “If people want to read into whatever conversations we have, they can read into it. But they all know who I am.”
Thune also said the conversation was “light-hearted.”
“We have lots of conversations. I’m always on a regular basis trying to persuade him that he needs to come to the other side. A lot of those are obviously light spirited conversations,” Thune said. “I don’t think… he’s ever given serious consideration to doing that.”
Manchin has been at odds with members of his party for months because of his continued opposition to key parts of President Joe Biden’s agenda. He even offered to switch his party affiliation to Independent if it was too “embarrassing” for other Democrats to caucus with him, he said.