"We have an extra chair for him at lunch. It's sitting there waiting for him," Paul, a Kentucky Republican, told Fox News's Martha MacCallum on Wednesday. "We are ready to see him. We're a big party, and I think he'd have a place."
Manchin, who hails from West Virginia, rejected speculation that he intends to leave the Democratic Party as "bulls***" after a Mother Jones report on Wednesday asserted he was entertaining the idea.
"He's a pro-energy senator from an adjacent state to mine, pro-coal, pro-fossil fuels," Paul announced. "He's unacceptable in the Democratic caucus. They seem to hate everything that his state produces. We'd welcome him on our side. I can't have any predictions that it would actually ever happen. But I promise you, he's got a seat at the table and a big important voice in our caucus if he chooses to come over."
Meanwhile, Mother Jones' Washington D.C. bureau chief David Corn ignited a political firestorm on Wednesday with a report that Manchin had told associates that he was thinking about leaving the party if President Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill couldn't satisfy his demands in significantly reducing the $3.5 trillion spending bill to a $1.75 trillion price tag. And that, "according to people who have heard Manchin discuss this," he would develop an exit strategy and declare himself an "American Independent."
Appearing on MSNBC, Corn stayed confident in his reporting, notwithstanding Manchin's obvious denial.
"Today, he called the report BS. I can tell you that the sourcing is impeccable, and he knows it! He knows what we know!" Corn told MSNBC host Joy Reid.
Since his reporting exposed Manchin's alleged plans, the Mother Jones journalist suggested that his exit from the Democratic Party is now "off the table."
"He has now said it's B-U-L-L. It's actually T-R-U-E," Corn said. "He himself has taken it off the table because if he's gonna do it now, then he would actually show that what he's saying it's bull that he was lying then. So he has been outed."