Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell again said Republicans would welcome Sen. Joe Manchin into the GOP if the West Virginian decided to leave the Democratic Party.
McConnell, R-Ky., discussed Manchin on Wednesday during an appearance on The Hugh Hewitt Show.
Hewitt asked McConnell if he had spoken to Manchin about switching parties “like [former British Prime Minister] Winston Churchill and [former Sen.] Jim Jeffords.”
“Well, you know, as I’ve said the last couple of days, I’ve had this conversation with him off and on for a couple of years,” McConnell told Hewitt. “We come from states that have a lot in common, that have become increasingly red over the last decade or so.
“And 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. If he were to join us, he’d be joining a lot of folks who have similar views on a whole range of issues.”
Talk about Manchin switching parties has resurfaced since Sunday, when the senator said he would not support President Joe Biden’s roughly $2 trillion social spending and climate legislation. It seems clear he’s a moderate in a party increasingly being taken over by progressives.
As chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Manchin likely would want to retain that position as a former Democrat.
“That’s something we’d talk to him about,” said McConnell, whose party will seek to regain control of the Senate in next year’s midterms.
“Obviously, he, I’m sure, enjoys being chair of the committee. It’s important to West Virginia. And all of those things are things we’ve discussed.”
McConnell served with Jeffords, a three-term senator, who in 2001 left the Republicans to become independent and caucus with the Democrats.
“Well, he was very, very uncomfortable on our side,” McConnell said of Jeffords. “And Vermont, of course, had become what it is today, a very, very liberal place. It was a shock, but not a total surprise.”
Although Jeffords had his differences with then-President George W. Bush and the GOP, McConnell said his colleague was not criticized publicly as progressives have been doing to Manchin.
“No, no, everybody on our side was courting him, because we were always fearful he’d do exactly what he ended up doing,” McConnell said. “So no, I mean, we certainly didn’t do anything like what the White House did to Joe Manchin the other day, basically calling him a liar. It was astonishing.
“Usually, when you’ve got a member a little bit out of sync with everybody else, you give him a lot of love. They did exactly the opposite.”