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Manchin said he’d caucus with GOP if Thune were Senate leader: book

The Hill logo The Hill 4/28/2022 Dominick Mastrangelo
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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) that he would switch his party to Independent and caucus with the Republican Party if Thune were made the leader of the Senate GOP, according to reporting in a new book from a pair of New York Times reporters.

Early in 2021, shortly after the election of President Biden and after Democrats had taken control of the House and Senate, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Thune tried to convince Manchin to switch parties, according to reporting in the book by journalists Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns.

Manchin had reportedly grown frustrated by his own party at the time following an interview Vice President Harris gave to a TV station in his state and said the White House had not notified him she would be doing so beforehand. The two sides at the time had been working on the White House’s coronavirus relief proposal.

In their book “This Will Not Pass,” a copy of which was obtained by The Hill, Martin and Burns report Thune pitched Manchin on the idea of not formally joining the GOP, but instead becoming an Independent and caucusing with Republicans.

Manchin was not sold on the idea, according to the book, because he did not want to make Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) the Senate majority leader again.

If Thune were the GOP leader, Manchin reportedly told him, he would make the switch.

Manchin, a conservative Democrat from a state that overwhelming voted for former President Trump twice and has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1996, has repeatedly dismissed speculation that he has considered switching parties.

“It’s bullshit,” he told reporters in October over such speculation. “I have no control of rumors, guys. No control of rumors.”

Some Republicans have welcomed the notion of Manchin joining their caucus in the 50-50 Senate.

“He feels like a man alone. If he were to join us, he would be joining a lot of folks who have similar views on a whole range of issues,” McConnell said during an interview late last year

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