Manchin jokes on party affiliation: ‘I don’t know where in the hell I belong’
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on Tuesday that he gets asked about switching parties “every day” and joked that he isn’t sure where he belongs politically.
Manchin, asked during an Economic Club of Washington, D.C., event about switching parties, said his life “would be much easier” if he flipped.
“[But] is that the purpose of being involved in public service?” Manchin said. “You think that having a ‘D’ or an ‘I’ or an ‘R’ is going to change who I am?” “
“I don’t think the R’s would be any more happier with me than the D’s right now … I don’t know where in the hell I belong,” Manchin added, sparking laughter from the audience.
Manchin’s comments follow a Mother Jones report, which he dismissed as “bullshit,” that he would leave the Democratic Party if President Biden and his colleagues stick with a plan to pass a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.
In step one, according to the report, he would send a letter to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) informing him of his plan to drop off Schumer’s leadership team.
After waiting for a week, in step two, he reportedly would change his voter registration from Democrat to independent, which would still allow him to vote in the Democratic Party primary under West Virginia election law.
Questions about if Manchin would switch parties have circulated around Washington for years. Manchin is the most conservative member of the Senate Democratic Caucus and has had high-profile clashes over Biden’s spending package.
Manchin told The Hill that he offered to Biden and Schumer and the caucus that if it would help them “publicly” for him to become an Independent who still caucuses with the party, as they face pressure from activists to craft a bill as large as possible, he was willing to do so.
“What is true,” Manchin told The Hill, “is that I have told the president, Chuck Schumer and even the whole caucus that if it is ‘embarrassing’ to them to have a moderate, centrist Democrat in the mix and if it would help them publicly, I could become an Independent — like Bernie [Sanders] — and then they could explain some of this to the public saying it’s complicated to corral these two Independents, Bernie and me.”
Manchin is up for reelection in 2024. He said on Tuesday that he hasn’t decided if he’ll run for reelection.
“I’ll be 77 years old,” he said, “what do you think?”
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