Sen. Joe Manchin said he offered to leave the Democratic Party if he became an ’embarrassment’ but ‘no one accepted that’

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on August 5, 2021.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on August 5, 2021. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
  • Manchin told reporters that he once offered to leave the Democratic Party if he became an “embarrassment.”
  • He still would’ve caucused with Democrats, but told reporters “no one accepted that.”
  • Manchin has been facing questions after a Wednesday report said he was considering switching parties.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said on Thursday that he once mulled leaving the Democratic Party and caucusing with Democrats as an independent if he became too much of an “embarrassment” due to his centrist politics. But his Democratic colleagues weren’t interested in his offer.

The exchange was first reported by POLITICO, and NBC News’ Frank Thorp reported that Manchin said he made the offer in case Democrats “needed” it.

“The only thing that was ever said that we’ve ever talked about – if I’m an embarrassment to my, my Democratic colleagues, my caucus,” Manchin told reporters. “And I said, me being a moderate centrist Democrat if that causes you a problem let me know and I’d switch to be independent, but I’d still be caucusing with Democrats.”

“No one accepted that,” he added.

This clarification was prompted by a Mother Jones story published on Wednesday that said Manchin would soon leave the party if he didn’t get his way in ongoing congressional negotiations.

“I can’t control rumors and it’s bullshit – bullshit spelled with a B, U, L, L, capital B,” Manchin told reporters on Wednesday soon after the story’s publication.

The story said that Manchin had told “associates” in recent days that he was mulling leaving the party if President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats didn’t agree to spending cuts in the $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion “Build Back Better” social spending bill.

Journalist David Corn wrote that Manchin would then declare himself an “American Independent” and had “devised a detailed exit strategy for his departure” from the party. “It is unclear whether in this scenario Manchin would end up caucusing with the Democrats,” he wrote.

This is not the first time the conservative Democrat has denied such rumors. “I’ve never considered it from that standpoint because I know I can change more from where I’m at,” Manchin told Vox in April in response to a question about potentially switching parties.