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McConnell made his latest pitch to Manchin while speaking to conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt, who asked the top Senate Republican if he had talked to the Democratic senator on if he would take the next exit into the GOP.
“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 said, elaborating that he and Manchin “come from states that have a lot in common, that have become increasingly red over the last decade or so.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters at the Capitol on Oct. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
“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,” McConnell continued. “So he feels like a man alone.”
McConnell also said that if Manchin “were to join” the GOP, “he’d be joining a lot of folks who have similar views on a whole range of issues.”
The Senate minority leader also said he would “talk” to Manchin about keeping the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee gavel, but did not give a firm yes or no on whether that would happen.
President Trump embraces Sen. Joe Manchin after the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 30, 2018. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
If Manchin were to switch parties and become a Republican, it would give the GOP control of the Senate with a slim 51-senator majority.
However, the flip would also pose an interesting question on who would lead the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee – Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming is the current lead Republican on the committee and would be next in line for the chair should the Senate flip.
Sen. Joe Manchin talks with reporters after stepping off the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on May 28, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
If McConnell intends to keep Manchin in control of the gavel in the event of a switch, he would likely have to strike a deal with Barrasso for the chairmanship.
The Kentucky Republican has been pushing the case for Manchin joining the GOP hard, having said just last week that he would “certainly welcome” the West Virginia Democrat into the party if he switched.
Rumors of a Manchin switch-up have rippled through Washington following Manchin’s vow to vote down President Biden’s signature Build Back Better bill.
The move has garnered Manchin negativity from his Democratic Party, with several progressives, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. and Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., attacking the West Virginia senator over his announcement.