Joe Manchin was very noncommittal during a no-label event Monday — both about the future of his party identity and whether he plans to run as a third-party candidate in 2024.
Asked if he would follow in the footsteps of Arizona Sen. Kirsten Sinema in leaving the Democratic Party to become an independent, Manchin said: ‘We’ll see what happens.’
‘I’ve never let party labels define who I am,’ he replied when pressed further on why he had never considered becoming an independent after years of being called a ‘moderate democrat’.
Speaking to a New Hampshire crowd Monday evening, former Republican Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman joined the stage amid rumors the two are running on a ‘unity ticket’ in the 2024 presidential election.
But Monday’s attendance focused on kicking off the first in a series of town halls to roll out the Common Sense Plan, proposed by No Label, in support of the organization’s mission for centrism and bipartisanship.
Sen. Joe Manchin says after ‘take a good look’ at changing party affiliation: ‘I’m the most independent Democrat you’ve ever met’
Asked what his party affiliation was, Manchin said: ‘I’m the most independent Democrat you’ve ever met.’
Although Manchin is a Democrat in the Senate, he has been criticized by members of his own party for undoing some of the policies they tried to jam through with a razor-thin majority.
‘My dear friend, John has an R in his name, right? I have a D by me. Maybe my grandfather, I don’t know,’ Manchin said to press when describing why he became a Democrat in the first place.
‘But the bottom line is – we have never seen the other side as an enemy,’ he added. ‘We’ve basically just looked at bringing different ideas together to try to find solutions. And that’s why he and I got paired up 12-13 years ago. We still believe it is needed more today than when we started.’
Manchin, a Democrat, and Huntsman, a Republican, repeatedly dodged questions about the possibility of running on the 2024 presidential ticket.
The two appeared on stage Monday at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester to unveil the No Label platform, Common Sense.
Asked how a Democrat and Republican sharing the White House would ‘work’, Manchin went after President Joe Biden, saying: ‘Much better than what you have today.’
Any third-party candidate in the race would help Republicans’ chances of victory in 2024 and hurt President Joe Biden’s reelection chances.
Manchin dismissed concerns that his candidacy could serve as a ‘spoiler’ for Biden that would help former President Donald Trump become president again.
Sen. Joe Manchin said that if a Democrat and Republican served together in the White House, it would work ‘much better’ than the current Biden White House. Democrat Manchin (left) appears with Republican Jon Huntsman (right) at a No Labels event in Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday
During a gaggle after the No Label event, Manchins continued to dodge questions about his party affiliation, saying: ‘I’ve never let a party label define who I am.’
‘I’ve never had a race I’ve ever wasted, I raced to win. And if I run, I’m going to win,’ the West Virginia senator said when pressed by the moderator on the possibility of a ‘unity ticket’.
Huntsman assured that he has ‘no idea’ what Manchin is going to do about the presidential bid, saying in the past that he is weighing a run and will make a decision by the end of the year.
With the nation’s first primary election less than seven months away, candidates are already descending on the Granite State – the first caucus state of Iowa and other early primary contender states South Carolina and Nevada.
The keynote speaker at the first town hall was moderate Sen. Manchin and former Utah governor Huntsman, who was also ambassador to China under Barack Obama and ambassador to Russia under Donald Trump.
It was clear that the consensus in the room was that Manchin and Huntsman could launch a bid for president together.
Other special guests on Monday included former Democratic Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman; former Republican governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory; former Republican Rep. Fred Apon of Michigan; former Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina; Civil rights leader Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.; Adv. Dennis Blair, former US Director of National Intelligence under Obama.
McCrory said the 2024 ticket plans to field presidential and vice presidential candidates under the No label. The ticket is expected to have both a Democrat and a Republican.
Lieberman and Chavis are national co-chairs of No Label, along with former Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who did not attend Monday’s rollout.
In introducing the rollout of a 30-point platform called Common Sense, No Label co-chair and Democratic civil rights leader Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. (R) said ‘Americans want more choice and more voice before 2024’
‘Americans want more choice and more voice as we prepare ,’ said Chavis, a Democrat. ‘We are putting democracy before the party.’
One participant in Monday’s town hall was very clear that they have no illusions about the chances of a third-party candidate winning the presidency in 2024. Asked about supporting the No Label movement regardless, she told Newstimesuk.com: ‘We have to try, right?’
Another realist supporter of the movement, who identified himself as Adam, said he hopes to help lay the groundwork for a third-party candidate to win in the future.
No label is expected to help prove that the candidates produced by the two-party system have alternatives – and is pushing to focus on ideas offered by individuals rather than party labels placed on candidates.
There are already 15 Republicans running in the 2024 primary, and President Joe Biden even has two longshot challengers in Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Marian Williamson.
The US political system has become increasingly dependent on the polarization of Democrat and Republican labels – voters often align with their party affiliation or leaning candidate.
Gallup has been tracking party affiliation trends since 2004 — and the latest from June shows that 44 percent of Americans consider themselves independent. Meanwhile, only 25 percent identify as Republican and 27 percent as Democrat.
A record high number of Americans identified as independent in March 2023, with 49 percent.
Unveiled at the event was No Label’s Common Sense booklet, which takes up roughly 60 pages and offers ’30 Big Ideas for America’s Biggest Challenges’.
McCrory said during some opening remarks that No Label’s goal is to ‘influence the agenda of politicians coming into New Hampshire and other states in the primary season.’
“If we can influence them with this common sense agenda, we’re already influencing this election and taking away the debate,” he said.
Much of the focus of the Republican race for president right now is the shift towards an ‘awakening’ in American society – particularly in regards to gender identity and transgender issues.
Regarding ‘awakening and gender and stuff’, Manchin said: ‘I was raised to believe that every American should have the opportunity to have a decent life.’
‘I don’t care who you are, I don’t care who you love, I don’t care what you are,’ added the moderate Democrat. ‘You should have a chance for quality of life. That’s my job – to make sure you have that access. We can treat each other – I mean, love America – the whole world is watching us.’
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