West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin on Sunday refused to say whether he would rule out the possibility of accepting a position on a third-party presidential ticket which most analysts say would serve only to help Donald Trump win a second term in the White House.
Mr Manchin, a centrist Democrat whose state overwhelmingly voted for Mr Trump in the 2020 election, is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators and would face a strong GOP challenge if he runs for another term in the upper chamber next year.
He has also refused to say whether he harbours presidential ambitions at the same time that No Labels, a centrist group backed by GOP donor Harlan Crow, among others, is making efforts to gain ballot access for a third-party ballot line in next year’s general election.
The group has suggested they would only run a ticket in next year’s election if the two major parties run “extreme” candidates who leave the broader US electorate wanting a third, more moderate choice. Mr Manchin has been floated as a candidate by some people close to that effort.
The Mountain State Democrat has often made a point of taking disagreements with President Joe Biden and the current administration public as a way of highlighting his independence from the Democratic Party at a time when his home state has become increasingly hostile to Democrats.
While he has previously said he’d win “any” race he enters next year, he has not yet formally announced a re-election bid, either.
He declined to do so once more during a 4 June appearance on Face the Nation, the weekly public affairs show on CBS, moments after he declined to endorse Mr Biden for reelection.
Mr Manchin told Brennan he was “not involved in the political process right now”.
“Everyone thinks about politics first. I don’t. It’s not about the politics. It’s not about my re-election or anyone else. We have an awful lot of work to do,” he said. “We still have permitting to get done, we have geopolitical unrest around the world. We have to support Ukraine. We have to make sure that we get our financial house in order and get inflation down … but if you throw politics in, I will guarantee you, you won’t get any decisions on any of that”.
Asked whether he was still considering a presidential run, he replied: “Everything’s open. Everything’s on the table and nothing off the table”.
He also declined to take himself out of the running for the hypothetical No Labels ticket during an appearance that same day on Fox News Sunday.
Asked about the possibility of a third-party or independent bid by host Shannon Bream, Mr Manchin said he was “not ruling anything in, not ruling anything out”.
“You better have Plan B. because if Plan A shows that we’re going to the far reaches of both sides, the far left and the far right, and that people don’t want to go to the far left and the far right, they want to be governed from the middle. I think there is, that you better have that Plan B available and ready to go,” he said.