Rumors about Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, flipping over to join Republicans surfaced on social media after he was seen sitting on the Republicans' side of the House chamber. The incident took place during U.S. President Joe Biden's first State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
Manchin had openly lashed out at fellow Democrats and Biden for not banning the importation of Russian oil in wake of the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war crisis.
Manchin's Team Pictures It As a show of 'Bipartisanship'
The Democrat from West Virginia was spotted sitting on the side of the House chamber traditionally reserved for Republicans instead of sitting with his own party's members. Manchin, who was the only Senate Democrat to sit with Republicans, was seen sitting next to GOP Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
In a bid to clarify Manchin's stance, his Communications Director Samantha Runyon told Washington Times that the action was done to show that bipartisanship works. "Senator Manchin sat with his colleague Senator Romney to remind the American people and the world that bipartisanship works and is alive and well in the U.S. Senate," said Runyon.
Axios reported that Manchin, who openly called out on "hypocritical" policies on energy imports pursued by the Biden administration, had expressed displeasure over the import of oil. "While Americans decry what is happening in Ukraine, the United States continues to allow the import of more than half a million barrels per day of crude oil and other petroleum products from Russia during this time of war," Manchin had said earlier this week.
Chatter on Social Media About Manchin's Kinship With Republicans
The social media was rife with speculations about Manchin switching sides with Republicans after visuals of his seating arrangement went viral.
"Why were you sitting with Republicans during the SOTU ? You just might as well formally switch parties. Obviously, you don't share the same values and priorities of true Democrats," tweeted a user.
"I wonder how the Democratic Voters in WV felt about Joe Manchin sitting with Republicans. Not only does he vote like one, he thinks he is Republican!" wrote another.
"Sitting with the Republicans. Why don't you just formally change your party to Republican?!?!?! You certainly aren't a Democrat. You have done nothing to help America!" said a user.
"Did you all see Joe Manchin is sitting with Republicans at the SOTU tonight? It is time for him to resign. He is not a Democrat," wrote a user.