Some GOP donors reportedly told Joe Manchin that they want him to face off against Trump as a Republican in 2024
Some Republicans are prodding Manchin to run for their party's nomination in 2024, CNBC reported.
That could set the stage for a primary battle against Trump, who is likely to run again.
But Manchin has said he doesn't want to switch parties and has backed Democrats on key priorities.
As Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia continued to stymie key aspects of President Joe Biden's agenda, some well-heeled GOP donors said they'd like to see him run for president as a Republican in 2024.
CNBC reported on Monday that Manchin attended a $5,000-a-plate fundraiser luncheon last month at the Florida estate of Nelson Peltz, a billionaire investor who's long been friends with the West Virginia Democrat, to support Manchin's reelection campaign.
According to an attendee who spoke with CNBC, Manchin told the group that he planned to run for reelection in West Virginia in 2024. Despite that, the attendee told the outlet several top executives at the fundraiser expressed their desire for Manchin to switch parties, which could lead to him challenging former President Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential primaries and running against Biden in the general election.
A spokesperson for Manchin pushed back against the CNBC report and said the senator would "continue representing West Virginians to the best of his ability."
"Senator Manchin has made it clear he is singularly focused on doing what is best for West Virginia and the country regardless of any political affiliation," Samantha Runyon, Manchin's communications director, said via email. "In this hyper partisan world we live in, this may sound like news. But for his entire career he has always been focused on doing what is right, not pleasing party elites or winning elections."
Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, the Home Depot cofounders Ken Langone and Bernard Marcus, and the billionaire investor Leon Cooperman were among the attendees, along with at least 50 other executives who predominantly contribute to Republicans, CNBC reported, citing the attendee.
"Mr. Peltz supports Mr. Manchin. He believes Mr. Manchin is a rare elected politician from both sides of the aisle who puts country before party, something which Mr. Peltz believes is much needed in our country today," a spokesperson for Peltz told CNBC.
Manchin has insisted that he's not interested in switching parties and blasted an October report that said he would soon switch parties as "bullshit." But the conservative Democrat has also mused that he doesn't "know where in the hell I belong" in the country's two-party system.
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Manchin torpedoed much of Biden's Build Back Better plan late last year. He opposed the sprawling social and climate bill over its size and scope, saying it would swell the national debt to unacceptable levels.
It seems unlikely that conservative voters would flock to Manchin in a GOP primary given the voting record he's carved out in recent years. Manchin was against repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2017 and cast a vote to convict Trump in both his impeachment trials.
He's also been a reliable backer of Biden's judicial nominees and voted to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court earlier this month, calling her career "exemplary." While he's been a roadblock to some of Biden's biggest legislative priorities, he gave a thumbs-up to the $1.9 trillion stimulus law last year.
Manchin opposed the 2017 Republican tax cuts as well. He favors stepping up taxes on the richest Americans to pay for a scaled-down version of Democrats' social- and climate-spending bill, prioritizing cutting the deficit, and reining in prescription-drug costs.
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