Sen. Joe Manchin says he’s considering third-party bid for president

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is toying with the idea of running for president next year.
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is toying with the idea of running for president next year.
Published: Jul. 18, 2023 at 7:57 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 18, 2023 at 7:58 AM CDT
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(CNN) - Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he might run for president, but he would not compete for his party’s nomination and would instead launch a third party bid.

If Manchin does indeed become a candidate, he said will look to win the White House and not act as a spoiler in next year’s race.

Manchin is openly flirting with a third-party presidential bid in New Hampshire.

“We’re here to make sure the American people have an option, and the option is can you move the American political parties off their respective sides. They’ve gone too far right and too far left,” he said.

What he calls a unity ticket many Democrats fear could be a spoiler by siphoning just enough votes from President Joe Biden to help Donald Trump win back the White House.

“I’ve never been in any race I’ve ever spoiled. I’ve been in races to win. And if I get in a race, I’m going to win,” Manchin said.

A town hall meeting marked the 2024 debut of No Labels, a bipartisan group that said it’s trying to offer Americans a third choice if a rematch emerges between Biden and Trump.

At Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, Manchin and Jon Huntsman, a former Republican governor from Utah, made their bipartisan pitch to move the nation beyond its partisan gridlock.

“There’s been an implosion in trust towards our institutions and our leaders. People want more,” Huntsman said.

For more than a decade, the No Labels movement said it has promoted bipartisanship over extremes.

The group, which registers as a nonprofit and declines to disclose its donors, plans to raise $70 million for a candidate-in-waiting.

The group unveiled what it called a “common sense” policy book aiming to find middle ground on controversial issues from abortion rights to guns to immigration.

It’s a centrist agenda that sounds downright utopian in today’s deeply-divided Washington.

“We’re putting nation before party. We’re putting democracy before party,” said Benjamin Chavis, the national co-chair of No Labels.

No Labels has only secured ballot access in Arizona, Alaska, Oregon, Utah and Colorado, aides say, with a goal of reaching 20 states by the end of the year.

Another threat to Biden’s re-election bid comes from Cornel West, the former Harvard scholar who is mounting a Green Party presidential bid.

He said he, too, rejects the label of spoiler.

“I wish they would spend as much time focusing on the plight of poor and working people as they do focusing on the spoiler,” West said. “I don’t even like that category since so many of folk who vote third party don’t vote at all.”

While third-party efforts have shown little promise in modern American history, deep displeasure with Trump and Biden have shined a brighter light on the prospects this year.

Mindful of an enthusiasm shortfall facing Biden, Democrats are increasingly sounding the alarm, haunted by Ross Perot’s independent bid in 1992 and Green Party runs from Ralph Nader in 2000 and Jill Stein in 2016.

Manchin, who has yet to say if he intends to seek reelection to the Senate next year or run for higher office, dismissed such concerns.

“I’m not here running for president tonight, I’m not. I’m here trying to basically save the nation,” Manchin said.

If he decides to run for the Senate again, he is expected to face the toughest fight of his political career.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, is running for the Senate seat, and recent polls show him with a substantial lead over Manchin.