A growing roster of Republican lawmakers are encouraging Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to consider crossing the aisle permanently to join the GOP.
Some left-wing Democrats are imploring the moderate Manchin to leave the party following his opposition to President Biden’s $1.8 trillion Build Back Better spending package, but the senator has not publicly expressed an intention of defecting.
Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters that “it would be a great idea” if Manchin were to switch.Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., who made headlines in 2019 when he left the Democratic Party to join the Republicans, likewise assured Manchin that he would be well-received if he made the move.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., echoed the sentiment during a Tuesday interview on Fox News’ “The Story,” saying, “I think it’s pretty rich when Bernie Sanders, who wasn’t even a Democrat at all until six years ago, is criticizing Joe Manchin for not being a good Democrat. So maybe it is time for Sen. Manchin to come over, and we’d welcome him with open arms if he did.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, also told Fox News Digital this week that Manchin would be welcome in the ranks of the GOP but noted such a move would be an uphill battle for him.
“A lot of folks ask, ‘Well, gosh, is Manchin going to become a Republican?’ I hope he does. I’ve asked him to. I think every Republican senator has made that case a dozen times to Joe,” Cruz said.
“I will say I think it’s a tough hill for him to climb. He’s just culturally, he’s a Democrat. He’s been a Democrat his whole life, and he’s really the godfather of Democrats in West Virginia. So I get why switching parties, that’s hard. That being said, if they’re nasty enough, the best thing that could happen is they could drive him over to the Republican Party, and we would welcome him.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told local Austin outlet KXAN that he sent a note to Manchin saying of the Democrats, “Joe, if they don’t want you, we do.”
“I don’t know what he will decide to do,” Cornyn said. “But I do know West Virginia has gotten increasingly red, and I think his vote on Build Back Better is reflective of what he’s hearing from his constituents in West Virginia. So yeah, we’d love to have him. That would change the majority.”
Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., also told Fox News host Neil Cavuto that Manchin would be welcome. “We’re in a dead set 50-50 Senate,” he said. “The only reason they have control is because they control the White House. And of course, we’d be happy to have Joe Manchin.”
A source close to Manchin told Fox News on Tuesday, “In the 10 years I’ve known him, he’s never once discussed switching parties with me.”
Fox News’ Joseph Wulfsohn contributed to this report.