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
Color me skeptical that it went down exactly like that. Rather, it seems like Manchin knew he was going to get caught in a lie and decided to hedge so as to get out in front of the matter. Further, even if this was an offer to leave the party but still caucus with the Democrats, it still comes across as a leverage play. Otherwise, there’s no real reason to even make the offer. Joe Biden would never accept an offer for Manchin to leave the Democrat Party and the West Virginia senator knows that.
Perhaps this is a window into how contentious the negotiations have gotten, though? 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.
Either way, as I guessed he would in my original write-up, Manchin was quick to deny the report and has now backtracked just enough to not be called a liar. 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.