Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would no doubt enjoy being majority leader again in the age of President Biden, and he is taking a unique approach toward that objective: Enticing embattled Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Dem from the red state of West Virginia, to jump ship and join the Grand Old Party.
On Monday, as Manchin came under fire from the White House and the much more liberal factions within his own party for declaring over the weekend he could not support Biden’s “Build Back Better” monstrosity — a multi-trillion dollar (by some estimates) spend-fest on a range of social and climate-related line items — because he believes it will worsen inflation, the Kentucky Republican extended an invitation during an interview on The Guy Benson Show podcast.
“I would imagine that your Christmas got a little bit merrier yesterday around 9:30, 9 a.m. Eastern time when your Democratic colleague Joe Manchin of West Virginia appeared on ‘Fox News Sunday’ with Bret Baier and announced that he’s a no on Build Back Better,” Benson began the segment.
The host went on to ask McConnell if he had any “inkling” regarding the way Manchin would vote on the bill before he announced his intention to oppose ‘BBB,’ though the Kentucky senator said he did not before calling the West Virginians’ decision “the single greatest favor” he could have done for the nation.
“Not an inkling, but I hoped. Ironically, my wrap-up press conference at the end of the session last Thursday, I said the single greatest favor Joe Manchin could give the country is to kill this bill. That’s what the country needs, to see this bill killed. It is absolutely inappropriate and unnecessary at a time when we’re fighting inflation,” McConnell told Benson.
“It was an exciting thing to hear. It was a great shot in the arm for the country. I think it’s exactly what the country needed at this particular time,” the GOP Senate leader continued.
Benson then queried McConnell about the Democrats’ reaction, as well as the administration, to Manchin’s decision to vote no.
“I was shocked at the vitriol. And basically, it seemed to me that they were calling Sen. Manchin a liar. I think that was not smart,” McConnell responded.
“This is a 50/50 Senate. It’s going to be 50/50 for another year, and believe me, this is not how I would handle a disappointing vote like that,” he continued.
“Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Sunday following Manchin’s comments.
“Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the president, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the president then subsequently announced. Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework ‘in good faith,'” she noted further.
“On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted—to the president, in person, directly—a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities,” Psaki added.
“While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all. Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground. If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate,” she said.
To that end, McConnell noted to Benson that Manchin’s moderate views have put him at odds with his party’s increasingly left-wing shift, and as such he is “certainly welcome” to join the GOP.
“He doesn’t fit well over there, but that is a decision ultimately that he has to make. We certainly welcome him to join us if he was so inclined,” McConnell said.
McConnell continued: “The American people have seen what true liberalism looks like. Actually, I’d say more accurately what socialism looks like, and we’re headed toward a very significant midterm election next year. And we should, in all likelihood, flip both the House and the Senate to the Republican Party.
“They’re in very, very tough shape, politically. I don’t see how that gets much better,” he noted. “No one thinks inflation is not going to still be a huge issue. We’re having a difficulty getting people back to work.
“Look, the Senate is still going to be close, but I think the atmosphere in which all of our races are going to be run is even dramatically better than the last time you and I spoke,” McConnell added.
Notably, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice switched to the GOP in August 2017 at a rally with then-President Donald Trump.
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