Never, ever trust a politician’s first denial. That’s the lesson on display after Joe Manchin admitted this morning that he has, in fact, discussed becoming an Independent, though, he’s trying to spin the revelation as something else.
Yesterday, RedState reported on a story from Mother Jones which purported to show Manchin had talked about leaving the Democrat Party and becoming an “American Independent.” At the time, I opined that I thought the story was true but that Manchin was likely using it as a negotiating tactic.
Well, after initially calling the story “bull****,” Manchin confirmed that story this morning, presenting it as an offer to Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer if they found him being a moderate “embarrassing.”
Sen Manchin again batted down rumors that he ever considered switching to GOP, but said he discussed the possibility of being an Independent that caucuses w/ Dems “if i’m an embarrassment to my Democratic colleagues, my caucus, the President”
He said “no one accepted that.”
— Ali Zaslav (@alizaslav) October 21, 2021
I’m skeptical it happened exactly that way. Manchin seemed to know he was being caught in the lie and chose to cover his tracks to stay ahead of it. It still appears to be a leverage play, even though it was an offer of leaving the party, but continuing to caucus alongside the Democrats. Otherwise, there’s no real reason to even make the offer. Joe Biden wouldn’t accept Manchin leaving the Democrat Party, and West Virginia Senator knows this.
This could be a glimpse into the contentious nature of negotiations. I speculated yesterday that the idea to leave the party was likely floated as a brush-back pitch to Chuck Schumer and company, and that’s exactly what it appears to have been, regardless of Manchin’s spin.
In any case, Manchin, just as I predicted in my initial write-up that he would, was quick to denial the report. He has since backtracked enough not to be labeled a lie. I suppose that’s something, but such waffling is going to do nothing to help him when he’s up for re-election again as a Democrat in deep-red West Virginia.