However, Manchin dismisses these concerns, rejecting claims that his candidacy would harm President Biden's chances of re-election in a likely rematch with Trump. In a recent interview with Fox News' Brett Baier, Manchin stated, "I would never be a spoiler for anybody, and I don't agree with…the analysis that they've come up with."
Manchin, a moderate from West Virginia, has repeatedly expressed his belief that another Trump presidency would be detrimental to democracy. He also worries that President Biden, burdened by low approval ratings, may not be capable of defeating Trump. These concerns have led Manchin to consider a potential third-party presidential campaign, a move that has garnered significant attention.
The senator made headlines earlier this month when he announced that he would not seek re-election to the Senate in 2024. This decision dealt a major blow to the Democrats' hopes of maintaining their slim majority in the chamber. In addition to hinting at a third-party run, Manchin has stated that he would "absolutely" consider a White House bid and that there is still "plenty of time" to make a decision.
Manchin argues that the current state of national politics is too polarized, leaving millions of voters in the middle without a voice. He believes that mobilizing the "radical, moderate, centrist middle person" is crucial because neither side can win without their support. This emphasis on centrist politics has led to speculation about Manchin's potential involvement with No Labels, an influential centrist group considering a bipartisan, third-party presidential ticket in the event that Biden and Trump are the major party nominees in 2024.
As a former chair of No Labels, Manchin has been closely associated with the group. Earlier this year, he served as an honorary co-host of their "Common Sense" town hall in New Hampshire, where they unveiled their policy proposals. Following Manchin's announcement, No Labels commended him for initiating a national conversation about solving America's biggest challenges. The group is currently gathering input from its members to determine the kind of leaders they would like to see in the White House. A decision about a potential Unity presidential ticket will be made by early 2024.
Polling suggests that independent presidential candidates Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornell West could draw support from both Biden and Trump in a hypothetical four-way general election showdown in 2024. Kennedy, an environmental lawyer and vaccine critic, initially launched a Democratic primary challenge against Biden but later announced his intention to run as an independent candidate. West, an outspoken progressive university scholar, was running on the Green Party ticket but has since declared his candidacy as an independent. However, both candidates face challenges in obtaining ballot access across the country.
The potential entry of former Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein into the 2024 race has also garnered attention. Many Democrats still blame Stein's 2016 campaign for siphoning votes away from Hillary Clinton and contributing to Trump's victory in key battleground states. Stein's decision to run again could further complicate the electoral landscape.
Amidst this political landscape, Manchin's flirtation with a third-party run has raised concerns among Democrats. Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist and DNC member, expressed her worry about anything that could help Trump win in 2024. Matt Bennett, co-founder of the moderate Democratic group the Third Way, acknowledged that many middle-of-the-road voters would choose Biden over Trump if forced to, but he also noted that some might opt for a Republican candidate like Larry Hogan, the former moderate GOP governor of Maryland who is considering a third-party presidential bid with No Labels.
Bennett, however, criticized No Labels and argued that Manchin would not be their candidate. He pointed to a chart released by the group that indicated a Democrat at the top of their ticket would result in a Trump victory. No Labels has not made any final decisions regarding a potential national ticket or the candidates involved.
Despite the challenges and skepticism surrounding a third-party candidacy, Manchin remains committed to finding better options for the country. He is determined to speak to the moderate majority of Americans who are tired of political fighting and extreme positions. Manchin's confidant, Steve Clemons, emphasized the need for alternatives and problem-solving solutions that engage frustrated Americans who feel left out of the current political system.
Manchin acknowledges that a third-party candidate, including himself, faces long odds of winning the White House. However, he believes that a movement can be built to push the established parties back to their roots and restore a sense of normality to American politics. He is willing to do whatever it takes to help the country out of its current "horrible situation."