Waiting around for Manchin has become something of a pastime in the nation’s capital. Hill reporters track his movements on the Senate floor, staking out his office, sometimes for hours, and then orbiting around him like electrons as he walks the halls of Congress. On a recent Monday morning, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) bumped into such a gaggle on the way to her office, which is near Manchin’s. “What are you guys doing here now?” she asked them. “It’s Monday, you know he’s not going to get here till 3 o’clock in the afternoon!”
“Sometimes I wish I wasn’t chained to this one spot,” says Burgess Everett, Politico’s chief Manchin correspondent. “But, at the same time, this is the best place to get the news of the day because it’s what everyone is interested in.”…
Another reason it’s good to be an ersatz president instead of a real one: You have a veto on legislation that would affect the whole country, but only have to answer to voters in a single state. Manchinologists — the sprawling network of friends, former staffers, close colleagues and journalists that chart his every move — will say that the senator is motivated by some combination of what his thinks is good for West Virginia, an extraordinarily right-wing state; what is good for him in West Virginia; and a desire to make his current job more like his old job as governor, which he left 11 years ago to join the Senate and is known to pine for on occasion.
“He’s a governor at heart,” says Jonathan Kott, a former Manchin adviser who is now a lobbyist.