Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he will decide by the end of this year whether he will launch a third-party bid for the White House.
Mr. Manchin faced repeated questions about his third-party aspirations during an interview with Fox News on Sunday, after he told host Shannon Bream that “people are not satisfied right now” with the current field of Democrat and Republican candidates.
“Why not have options?” Mr. Manchin said.
“A lot of people like you as an option,” Ms. Bream replied. “And you’ve said once you make a decision, a target will be on your back. So you’re waiting till the right time. But the fact is, the calendar is now going to start working against you. What is the timeline? Do you have any announcements to make this morning?”
Mr. Manchin replied that he did not have an announcement to make then and there, but indicated he’s open to running.
“I think yes, I could bring it together,” he said.
The Fox News host again asked Mr. Manchin for a timeline to make a decision.
“Well, I’ve said before the end of the year I will,” Mr. Manchin replied. “We’re still planning.”
The West Virginia Democrat’s comments come with just three months left in 2023. Mr. Manchin has previously described a year-end timeline to decide on a presidential run. His latest comments indicate he is still open to such a run and that an announcement could come in the next few weeks.
Mr. Manchin will have to balance any decision on a presidential run alongside a decision on whether to run for re-election to his current Senate seat, which is also up in 2024.
Manchin Sees Centrist Opening
Mr. Manchin signaled dissatisfaction with the increasing polarization of the Democrat and Republican parties and argued for a centrist option who can bridge the partisan gap.
“There’s a lot of people that are basically in the center-left, center-right,” he explained.
Mr. Manchin credited House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for bucking a large portion of his own party to pass a continuing resolution over the weekend that temporarily funds the U.S. government and avoids a partial shutdown. The continuing resolution garnered the support of 209 House Democrats and 126 House Republicans, with 90 House Republicans opposed.
“I praise Kevin McCarthy for what he did yesterday,” Mr. Manchin said. “He finally realized you can’t reason with unreasonable people, with the extremes.”
The West Virginia Democrat indicated he doesn’t believe former President Donald Trump, the Republican 2024 presidential frontrunner, has the ability to govern from that centrist position. He also said President Joe Biden “used to be” in that centrist position but is no longer.
“We’re hoping maybe they’ll come back to rational thinking that hey, it doesn’t work pushing everything to the extremes,” Mr. Manchin said. “This country does not run on the fringes. It never has and it can’t start now. So they’re either going to come back or we’re going to bring it back.”
Democrats Raise Alarm Over 3rd Parties
President Biden’s reelection campaign efforts could be blunted by challengers from both inside and outside his party. Environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and author Marianne Williamson have both launched their own bids for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination, challenging President Biden, who would turn 82 before the start of a second term if he wins in 2024.
Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) may also be considering challenging President Biden for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination. Mr. Phillips has been calling for a younger candidate to lead the Democratic Party and on Sunday stepped down from his leadership position in the House Democratic minority.
Talk of a third-party challenge, on the other hand, has some Democrats and their allies openly expressing concern.
“This is not the time to play around on the margins,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison warned over the summer, according to reports.
David Axelrod, the chief strategist on President Barack Obama’s campaigns, has said Green Party candidate Cornel West could cut into Democrat vote totals, to the befit of Republicans.
In 2016, the Green Party played an outsized role in tipping the election to Donald Trump,” Mr. Axelrod said in a July X post. “Now, with Cornel West as their likely nominee, they could easily do it again. Risky business.”
Democrat-aligned groups like MoveOn and Third Way began calling on elected officials to sign a petition urging the “No Labels” to cease their efforts at setting up their own party, warning that such a party “would serve as a spoiler that could return someone like Donald Trump to office.” Mr. Manchin gave a keynote address at a No Labels town-hall-style event in July.
In May, Democratic Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows sent a cease-and-desist letter (pdf) to No Labels, alleging the group deceived voters into changing their voter affiliations to No Labels when voters instead thought they were simply signing a ballot-access petition; an allegation the No Labels movement has denied. MoveOn began calling on election officials in other states to similarly scrutinize the No Labels movement’s ballot-access efforts, citing Ms. Bellows’s cease-and-desist letter.