Hours after Sen. Joe Manchin’s bombshell announcement that he will not be seeking reelection, he continued to fuel rumors and speculation that he could be mounting a presidential bid.
The West Virginia Democrat made his surprising announcement Thursday, explaining in a video message that he will leave the Senate and be “traveling the country and speaking out, to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle, and bring Americans together.”
Not only will his departure mean an even more tenuous hold for his party on the majority in the Senate, but the seeming mystery behind his next move is rattling Democrats about a possible third-party presidential bid. His past collaboration with the No Labels political group only adds to the intrigue that the lawmaker created with his announcement and an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
“This moment in the nation’s history is so filled with peril and political dysfunction that I want to work not only for my beloved West Virginia but for all Americans,” Manchin, a former governor of West Virginia, said. “Working together, I want to eliminate what is standing in the way of so many obvious and popular solutions. While the Democratic and Republican parties increasingly cater to the extremes, most Americans are moderate, levelheaded folks, and they are plain worn out.”
“I will finish my term while traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is interest in building a movement to mobilize the middle, find common ground and bring Americans together,” added the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The No Labels group, which is getting on the ballot in several states, issued a statement after Manchin’s announcement.
“Senator Joe Manchin is a tireless voice for America’s commonsense majority and a longtime ally of the No Labels movement. The Senate will lose a great leader when he leaves, but we commend Senator Manchin for stepping up to lead a long overdue national conversation about solving America’s biggest challenges, including inflation, an insecure border, out-of-control debt and growing threats from abroad,” the statement read.
“Regarding our No Labels Unity presidential ticket, we are gathering input from our members across the country to understand the kind of leaders they would like to see in the White House. As we have said from the beginning, we will make a decision by early 2024 about whether we will nominate a Unity presidential ticket and who will be on it,” the group added.
2/2 The Senate will lose a great leader when he leaves, but we commend Senator Manchin for stepping up to lead a long overdue national conversation about solving America’s biggest challenges, including inflation, an insecure border, out-of-control debt and growing threats from… pic.twitter.com/zzdTICRKmm
— No Labels (@NoLabelsOrg) November 9, 2023
Reporting on Manchin’s announcement, The New York Times noted he has “stoked chatter about a third-party run” while “his allies have been tight-lipped about his plans.”
The leftist newspaper cited allies and critics in assessing Manchin’s potential longshot bid for the White House, though he has made no such decision. Pointing to the “hundreds of millions of dollars to run a credible independent or third-party campaign,” the report also noted the late start and Manchin’s age of 76 as factors that would stack the deck against him.
“If he sees that Biden continues to be the Democratic nominee and Trump the Republican nominee, I think he truly sees a huge slice of the American electorate, both Republican and Democratic, fed up with both of their parties’ nominees,” former Rep. Nick Rahall, a fellow West Virginia Democrat, told The Times.
Meanwhile, another political action committee is also sounding the alarm since the senator’s announcement.
“If Joe Manchin runs on the No Labels ticket, he would be responsible for sending Donald Trump back to the White House,” Rahna Epting, the executive director of MoveOn Political Action, said. “Joe Manchin should set the record straight on whose side he is on and reject any overtures from No Labels’ dangerous ploy.”
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