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Republicans applauded after the vote failed

Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah who has voted against his own leadership during momentous votes, told CNN that he has been surprised by Democratic members’ attacks of their own members as the filibuster fight has intensified. 

He said Sen. Joe Manchin is the “only” Democrat who could even get elected in West Virginia. 

“My colleagues did not criticize me or hang me out to dry when I had a vote or two particularly with regard to the impeachment of Donald Trump. They did not make my life difficult. They respected my vote on conscience. I am surprised to see people talk about bringing a primary against Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema. It’s like Joe Manchin is the only Democrat that could win in West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema is the kind of maverick that Arizonans love. It makes no sense to me at all to watch their own leadership attacking people they desperately need,” he said.

Other Republicans also applauded Manchin’s speech in which he defended the filibuster. 

“You don’t see too many displays of true political courage around here, but I think both of them demonstrated with their speeches in the last few days that they get what is at stake and they are willing to put their political viability and futures on the line for it,” Sen. John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, said. 

Some context: Manchin warned against partisan division in a speech earlier Wednesday evening as Democrats press ahead to an expected vote to change Senate filibuster rules in an attempt to pass voting legislation.

The West Virginia Democrat has repeatedly said he will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster, which sets a 60-vote threshold to pass most legislation, creating an obstacle for his party as Senate Democrats push for a rules change.

CNN’s Clare Foran, Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett contributed reporting to this post.

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