West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s flirtation with a 2024 third-party presidential run has some Democrat colleagues worried that such a campaign could return former President Donald Trump to the White House.
Manchin, a moderate Democrat facing a potentially difficult reelection fight in his home state, has not said what his future political plans are. A White House bid could be funded by centrist group No Labels.
“I have advised him against it. I think it would be a terrible idea,” said Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., Politico reported. “It would help Donald Trump.”
Hickenlooper isn’t the only Democrat saying that Manchin would be making a mistake running for president.
“I have trouble seeing Sen. Manchin doing anything that would put Donald Trump back in the White House,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Politico reported.
“I’m hardly original in thinking that a third-party candidate would have unpredictable and unknown [consequences] that certainly could be in favor of Donald Trump.”
Manchin, though, has indicated he disagrees that a third-party candidate would help the eventual Republican nominee.
“Then how did [Ross] Perot get Bill Clinton elected?” Manchin asked, referring to the 1992 Reform Party candidate who took votes away from the GOP nominee, then-President George Bush.
“Everybody’s getting so worked up and scared to death, and we’re a year and a half away. Is there any alternative? Is there anything that we can do to bring both the Democrat and Republican Party back to centrist policy?”
Democrats in the Senate desperately want to retain Manchin’s seat. A 2024 GOP presidential victory would mean Republicans need just one pick-up to take control of the chamber.
However, with popular Gov. Jim Justice the likely Republican candidate, Manchin likely would be in his toughest fight yet to return to the Senate. The filing deadline to run in the race is not until January.
Politico said that “keeping an open mind is central to Manchin’s political identity — and his ability to achieve his goals. In this case, it may boost his hopes to fully enact his preferred energy permitting reforms, as well as increase his sway over the implementation of energy provisions in the party-line Inflation Reduction Act.”
Manchin’s recent actions could mean he’s preparing himself for one last Senate run in red West Virginia, or he’s compiling a resume that appeals to moderates in both major parties.
He has voted to roll back some of President Joe Biden’s policies, opposed some of the president’s nominees and criticizing the administration as “radical” on energy.
“I don’t rule out anything,” Manchin said, Politico reported. “There’s a tremendous concern about our country and the direction the country is going in. That’s all. We’re talking about whether it’s going to hurt anybody if there’s some kind of interest in trying to save the centrist, moderate middle.”
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., who chairs the Democrat caucus’ campaign arm, said Manchin is “still thinking” through his options.
“I’m encouraging him to run for the Senate every opportunity I get,” Peters said, Politico reported.
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