Now that he's given his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden is expected to announce his plans for reelection. There's another potential candidate generating buzz, though, despite how he might not even run as a Democrat. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) again sparked chatter about a potential run on Tuesday.
While appearing on a Semafor forum, Manchin was directly asked by Robert Costa if he is "considering a 2024 presidential bid," during which the senator responded with something of a politician's answer.
"Bob, in all seriousness, the only thing I'm considered with is what can I do to bring the country together," he offered, not giving a 'yes' or a 'no' answer. "I don't know what--I don't know what the next chapter will be, I don't know what the future lies, I really don't, but I can tell you one thing, I feel like most Americans, we got to come together."
Manchin went on to sell his pitch that "Americans want to be united, Americans want to be together, and right now we're going further apart." He offered "you can't look at the other side and say 'it's always their fault,'" also pointing out "now if they want to go down and play that, then the people are basically going to be looking for something, or somebody."
Just when it sounded like Manchin may have been offering himself up as that "somebody," he clarified "I'm not saying whether that's me, or somebody else, or whether that could be so many people that have tried to work in the middle."
Manchin got even stronger in condemning partisanship, especially when it comes to the people "who have been forced to take a side," who "are pretty moderate, centrist people, but they gotta play the game on the far-right or maybe go to the base of the far-left, thinking that's where their support's gonna come from."
The senator, who represents one of the most conservative states in the country, made it clear he's "never thought that, and I've never played that, and there's a lotta people like me, I think, that'll come to that middle and if we can bring them together and find out if there's a need, we'll just see." As telling as such a tease may seem, Manchin did add "I think there's a lot of different players in the game, I really do."
Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin won’t rule out challenging Biden for the Democrat nomination for president in 2024. pic.twitter.com/pJRFWQwnoe— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) February 7, 2023
A Tuesday afternoon write-up of Manchin's remarks from The Hill's Alexander Bolton also highlighted another caveat from the senator. "I’m not saying I have any aspirations" to run for president, he said, adding "I’ve been [in Washington] 12 years. I don’t like what I see," emphasizing his goal of trying to bring people together. "I don’t the direction we’re going and I’m going to work and commit myself to try to get people who want to do the right thing to find the pathway forward, bringing the country back together.”
During an interview on NBC News' "Meet the Press" last month, Manchin told host Chuck Todd that "everything's on the table" when asked about his future political aspirations. He didn't say under which party he would run under.
The senator also made news last week for his working together with his Republican colleagues. While he's long been considered something of a moderate or even conservative Democrat, this involvement with Republicans in the 118th Congress is a pivot from the deal he made with Democratic leadership to support and pass the so-called "Inflation Reduction Act." While Manchin voted for the misnamed bill, which he acknowledged wouldn't actually do anything to help fix inflation, he failed to get what he was offered in return, the passing of permit reforms.
Manchin may also run for reelection in 2024, in a year where the Senate map is looking particularly favorable for Republicans. Manchin, who only won by about 3 points in 2018--which was a blue wave--may be the Democrats' only hope in holding onto that seat, given how heavily Republican it is and how West Virginians have given Biden his lowest approval rating of any state.