This cannot be music to the ears of the White House: Speaking in an interview with NBC’s Kristen Welker, Sen. Joe Manchin said he would “absolutely” consider a presidential run in 2024.
The West Virginia Democrat’s name has often come up in discussions of candidates with the ability to mount a third-party challenge to President Joe Biden from the center, and that buzz only increased after Manchin announced last week that he would not be seeking another term in the Senate next year.
Welker appeared with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC Wednesday to offer a preview of an interview with Manchin that will air later in the day on “Meet the Press Now.”
“The big question,” Welker told Mitchell, “is ‘Will he or won’t he?’ It’s clear he’s not close to making a decision yet.”
Manchin told Welker that he had until Super Tuesday — March 5, when 14 states and American Samoa hold their Democratic primaries — to make up his mind. Welker called that a “new timeline,” saying that the senator had previously stated he had until the beginning of the new year.
She added that it took some prodding to get Manchin to admit that he was considering a run at all.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure — and mobilize the moderate, sensible, common sense middle — that could be a center, center-left, center-right, so it could be a person who was involved in the Grand Old Party forever … The middle’s gone. There’s not many of us centrists left,” he said at first.
“If I can reinvigorate that … I will do everything that I possibly can,” Manchin said. “I’m totally, absolutely scared to death that Donald Trump will become president again. I think we will lose democracy as we know it.”
Manchin explained that his concern a potential second Trump term has to do with what he considered un-American behavior on the part of the former president.
“You can’t normalize this visceral hatred, calling people names and attacking people,” he said. “You can’t basically think the only fair election is the one you win and the only laws pertain to everybody but you. That’s not the country we are. That’s not how we became the country.”
Manchin said he was also concerned that Biden’s administration has been pushed so far to the left by his own party that he’s now almost unrecognizable as the candidate he ran as in 2020 and has become un-electable.
“Can he come back?” he asked. “We’ll see.”
Pressed again on whether he was considering a 2024 run for the White House, Manchin’s answer was more clear.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Every American should consider it.”
You can watch the entire clip here.
Welker said that Manchin also rejected the idea that he would be a spoiler who would actually help Trump get elected if he got into the race and stole votes from Biden.
However, she added, that thinking would certainly be part of any decision Manchin made about a potential run.