Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., isn’t ruling out running for president, after announcing that he wouldn’t seek re-election for the Senate in 2024.
In a video posted to X last week, the Democrat said he was retiring from the Senate at the end of his term and plans to travel around the country to gauge “interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together.” His surprising announcement left many wondering if the moderate Democrat was considering launching a third-party presidential bid.
In a new interview, Manchin would neither confirm nor deny he was considering this option.
“It’s not about me. It’s not about the next election. I keep telling people, this is a movement,” he told CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell when asked directly about his presidential ambitions in a Tuesday interview.
When pressed, Manchin dodged the question again.
“I don’t know how to tell you. I don’t know what the future lies [sic]. I know we cannot continue [in] the direction we are going,” he said.
The West Virginia Democrat said he had “plenty of time” to make the decision.
“Only in America does the next election start the day after the last election. Most countries don’t have election a year ahead of time,” Manchin said. “I think there’s plenty of time, plenty of time. And especially if there’s a movement in the middle, there’s not a primary. It’ll be basically in the general election process.”
Manchin would not commit to supporting President Biden in the next election, either. He said Biden had drifted to the far left and could not be considered a moderate anymore.
“I want President Biden — I would hope that changes would come,” he said.
It was up to Americans to decide if Biden deserved a second term, he said.
“I’m an American first. I’m an American. I’m an independent, I think. I don’t know what I am. I can tell you this, I feel comfortable working with both sides,” he told O’Donnell.
The moderate Democrat, who has pushed back against his party’s progressive agenda in recent years, said he felt politically homeless.
“Are you considering leaving the Democratic Party?” O’Donnell asked him.
“I’m not sure if the Democratic Party thinks I’m part of them anyway,” Manchin responded.
Manchin attended a “No Labels” event in New Hampshire over the summer, causing some fellow Democrats to worry he might mount a “spoiler” campaign reminiscent of late Texas industrialist Ross Perot in 1992.
At the time, he told reporters his participation at the event was not a formal indication of third-party intentions. However, he later added that he’s “never ruled out anything or [ruled] in anything… this is strictly a conference we’re having.”
Manchin dismissed concerns he could be a “spoiler” to Biden’s reelection in the CBS interview.
“I don’t buy that scenario,” he said. “[I]’ve never been a spoiler in anything. I’ve never tried to. I compete the best I possibly can. I compete to win. And I’m gonna work right now to try to win the middle back.”
In recent weeks, the list of Democratic and independents entering the 2024 race has grown. On the same day that Manchin made his Senate retirement announcement, 2016 Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein announced she was launching another presidential bid.
Manchin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the senator’s future plans.
Fox News’ Brandon Gillespie and Charles Creitz contributed to this report.
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