MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Iowa and New Hampshire are about to kick off the 2024 presidential nominating process, but Sen. Joe Manchin said Friday it won’t become clear until March whether there’s a path for a third-party candidate.
The West Virginia Democrat 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 possibility of a presidential run. He demurred when an audience member at the “Politics & Eggs” event suggested that Democrats should write him in on their ballots. Asked about a possible run, he told reporters later that he thinks Super Tuesday will provide a better perspective on the political landscape.
“If there’s going to be an option or a need for an option, you’ll find out by then,” he said. “By March, you’re going to have pretty much a lay of the land and what you’re going to have and what you’re going to be offered.”
Manchin, who is not running for reelection in 2024, 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 and former President Donald Trump.
Some Democrats have expressed concern that a run by the centrist Manchin as an independent could cut into Biden’s support and pave the way for Trump winning a second term. Asked by the event’s moderator Friday who would get his vote if Biden and Trump are 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.”
Earlier in his speech, Manchin emphasized the importance of “the character of the people who want to serve.” But he declined to say whether Trump or Biden has a stronger character when asked by a reporter.
“You’re going to make that decision, I already made my decision,” he said.
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. The organization is being run by Manchin’s daughter, Heather Bresch, who announced the listening tour Friday. Manchin himself offered few details.
“I don’t know, I have to talk to my daughter,” he said. “I have still a job to do, and she tells me when I can go wherever my schedule allows.”