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Senate GOP courts Manchin for party switch after Build Back Better backlash

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Senate GOP courts Manchin for party switch after Build Back Better backlash

At least four Senate Republicans have joined Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in letting Sen. Joe Manchin know that he has a home in the GOP after the West Virginia Democrat was lambasted by his party colleagues for saying he would not support the multi trillion-dollar Build Back Better Act.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told a reporter at KXAN in Austin Tuesday that he had sent a note to Manchin about switching parties.

“Joe, if they don’t want you, we do,” Cornyn said he wrote in the recruitment message.

The Texan added that Manchin hadn’t responded, but said that if the West Virginian did cast his lot with the Republicans it would be the “greatest Christmas gift.”

“I don’t know what he will decide to do,” Cornyn told the news station. “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.”

Cornyn’s fellow Texas Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz, said he thinks Manchin made the right decision by opposing what Cruz called Biden’s “Build Back Broke Bill.”

Sen. John Cornyn isn’t certain if Sen. Joe Manchin plans on switching to the Republican party.
Pacific Coast News / Rod Lamkey – CNP

“It was reckless and irresponsible,” Cruz told Fox News Monday. “And you know what, the people of West Virginia don’t want it. Manchin did the right thing. He actually represented the men and women of his state.”

Cruz also decried the “vicious” way many Democrats reacted to Manchin’s no vote.

“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. “The best thing that could happen is they could drive him over to the Republican Party and we would welcome him.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Several Democrat congress members blasted Sen. Joe Manchin after announcing he would not vote for President Joe Biden’s $2.1 trillion spending bill.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) also said he would greet Manchin with open arms.

“We’re in a dead set 50-50 Senate. The only reason they have control is because they control the White House. And of course, we’d be happy to have Joe Manchin,” Hagerty told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Tuesday.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told Fox News’ “The Story” Tuesday afternoon that Manchin had been “candid and upfront” about his issues with the spending legislation and was being attacked for it by far-left lawmakers.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz claims “the people of West Virginia” don’t favor President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill.
Chip Somodevilla/Pool via REUTERS

“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,” Cotton said, “so maybe it is time for Sen. Manchin to come over, and we’d welcome him with open arms if he did.”

Manchin stunned his Democratic colleagues when he went on “Fox News Sunday” to say he was a “no” vote on President Biden’s $2 trillion social spending plan because of its effects on inflation and the $29 trillion national debt.

McConnell called Manchin’s declaration “the single greatest favor Joe Manchin could give this country” as the country deals with the highest rate of inflation in 39 years.

Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn.
Sen. Bill Hagerty says Sen. Joe Manchin joining the Republicans would break the “dead set 50-50 Senate.”
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The Kentucky Republican also noted the harsh comments toward Manchin from House progressives like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who called Manchin’s reasoning “bulls—.”

“Basically it seemed to me that they were calling Sen. Manchin a liar. I think that was not smart,” McConnell said. “This is a 50/50 Senate. It’s going to be 50/50 for another year, and believe me, this is not how I would handle a disappointing vote like that.”

“He doesn’t fit well over there, but that is a decision ultimately that he has to make,” the Senate Republican leader added. “We certainly welcome him to join us if he was so inclined.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)
Sen. Tom Cotton promises Sen. Joe Manchin would be welcomed “with open arms,” if he joined the Republican party.
Getty Images

In an interview Monday with a West Virginia radio station, Manchin said he still considers himself a Democrat.

“I would like to hope that there are still Democrats that feel like I do. I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate,” he said. “Now, if there’s no Democrats like that, then they’ll have to push me wherever they want me.”

A source close to Manchin told The Post they have “never heard him discuss it and it’s highly unlikely” that he would switch parties.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argues Sen. Joe Manchin “doesn’t fit well” with the Democrats.
Rod Lamkey – CNP/Sipa USA

The source noted that switching parties and giving the GOP the Senate majority would require Manchin to give up his position as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“What’s the advantage?” the source asked. “He’s now the 51st vote but he’s going to vote against them the majority of the time anyway, and he loses his committee chairmanship, and then what? Logistically, it doesn’t make sense.”

If Manchin does take the plunge, he’d be the first sitting senator to switch parties since Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who made the jump from the GOP to the Democrats in 2009.

Manchin, a former West Virginia governor, is the only Democrat among the Mountain State’s congressional delegation. Besides playing a crucial role in brokering the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan with Congress and the White House, analysis by FiveThirtyEight showed that Manchin voted 97 percent of the time in line with Biden’s policies.

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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