Since announcing he would not seek reelection in November, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has left people wondering if he will run for the presidency as a third-party candidate.
On Tuesday, the two-time West Virginia senator hinted to reporters about possibly running for president sometime after Super Tuesday on March 5.
“Super Tuesday pretty much confirms whatever is going to happen, what we believe will happen, and we’ll see where we go from there,” Manchin said.
“But people are looking for options, and we’re going to be looking at that, too. Whether it’s me or whoever it may be, I think there’s going to be options available if it goes down the way it’s going down,” he added.
The senator visited New Hampshire just before the Jan. 23 primary, and though he insisted his only goal was to promote his new Americans Together organization aimed at fostering bipartisanship and giving moderates a voice. He has previously floated the idea of a presidential run.
“WE ARE THE MODERATE MAJORITY. We stand against extremism in politics. It has taken over our political system and taken away our voice,” his organization’s website states. “As proud Americans, we agree on more than we disagree. We demand that our politicians put country before party to get things done. Enough is enough.”
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As CBN News reported in November, Manchin announced he would not seek reelection to his West Virginia seat in the U.S. Senate. The announcement caused a lot of chatter among political pundits, suspecting he was considering a run for the White House.
“What I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there’s an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together,” he said at the time.
The centrist Democrat said the polarizing political climate is exhausting Americans but that he will fight to unite the middle.
Manchin said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in November that he would “absolutely” consider a run for president. And last month, the 76-year-old joked that the nation could use someone slightly younger than the leading contenders, President Joe Biden, 81, and former President Donald Trump, 77.
He kicked off his listening tour on Jan. 12, speaking at the New England Council and a New Hampshire Institute of Politics event known as the “Politics & Eggs” series. The senator spoke at the event sponsored by the two groups usually reserved for candidates running for public office, according to The Hill.
The event opened with a campaign-style video promoting Americans Together that poked fun at the notion that “moderate” has become a dirty word in Washington.
During his appearance, he was asked by the event’s moderator who would get his vote if Biden and Trump were the nominees, Manchin declined to answer.
“That’s a difficult question right there,” he said. “You have to make a decision — the character of that candidate, whether you agree or disagree, whether you support or haven’t supported, whether you’re in the same political party or not.”
“You’re going to make that decision, I already made my decision,” he said.
Will Manchin Run for President in 2024?
But will the moderate Democrat step into the presidential ring? At least for now, Manchin isn’t ready to show his cards.
“You know, those questions have been asked to me so many times. And me not running for Senate has nothing to do with where I think this country should be going,” Manchin told CBN News during a late November interview. “It gives me the time now to go out and see if there’s enough other people in America, whether it’s me, whether it’s someone else.”
Some Democrats worry if Manchin runs, he’ll only take votes away from President Joe Biden. Manchin disagrees.
“I don’t see that at all. There are no historical facts on that. If that was the case, then how can they say that Ross Perot really elected Bill Clinton? It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever how this is going to go. I’ve never been a spoiler. If I don’t think there’s a pathway for it, I would not run and I would not encourage anyone else to be involved,” he said.
“But if we can force the political parties to look differently than what they’re looking right now and how they represent the country, if we can force them to look and say, listen, we have gotten too far, we’ve gotten too extreme,” the West Virginia senator said.
If there was ever a chance a third-party candidate could have a real shot at the White House, Manchin told CBN News it could be now.
“You just have to see. I don’t think there’s ever been a time like this in the political posturing that we have in our country or the political procedures that we have and how we have to do things. And with that, I think that if there was ever going to be a time for an individual to run not on either of the major parties, this would be the time. So, we have to see if you’re going to be able to build that type of a force,” he said.
Manchin, a Catholic, said his faith has been a guiding force in his life.
“Well, whatever you do in life, your faith should never leave you. I hope not. You know, I always say that you are who you are by where you were raised, how you were raised, and who raised you and I had a loving family. I was a privileged child. Not the material things, I wasn’t privileged to material things. I was privileged with an unconditional love and a love of God. And basically, the church was a big part of our life,” the senator said.
“So, with that being said, I looked at all religions and all of my friends, you know, and we used to worship together. Then when I became governor, we used to have prayer services in my office. We had denominational, interdenominational, all of them…. I’ve had from the rabbi to the imams to the priests to the Pentecostal, to the bishop. They used to come out all the time. It was just wonderful,” Manchin said.