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Manchin said no presidential run at two events in Ohio Thursday, before Friday speech confirming it

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks at the Columbus Metropolitan Club on Feb. 15, 2024.
Sarah Donaldson
Statehouse News Bureau
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks at the Columbus Metropolitan Club on Feb. 15, 2024.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said in a speech in his home state of West Virginia Friday that he’s not running for president, ending speculation that he might try a third-party run that could had take votes from President Biden, a fellow Democrat. But Manchin said he wasn’t running at two appearances in Ohio a day earlier.

At the Columbus Metropolitan Club on Thursday, Manchin was asked if what he’s called his listening tour of Ohio and other states is a lead-up to a presidential run for the dark money group No Labels or as an independent.

“My purpose of coming around and being here is not to propose or propel me running for any office. I said I'm not running for reelection for the U.S. Senate and I'm not out here running on any party for any other office," Manchin said.

He said the same thing at an appearance at the City Club of Cleveland earlier in the day.

But when asked who he'd be voting for, Manchin said he was sure of only one thing: “I haven't made my mind up. I truly haven't. I know I'm not going to vote for Donald Trump."

In a follow-up question, Manchin confirmed he hasn't decided if he'll vote for Biden.

Manchin has been critical of both Biden and Trump, on immigration in particular. In Columbus, he added that he won't vote for Trump because of comments about the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, who was a prisoner of war for six years during the Vietnam War, and about his questions about the whereabouts of Republican presidential opponent Nikki Haley's husband, who is deployed with the Army National Guard to Africa. And Manchin also noted Trump's recent remark that he would not defend NATO members that don’t meet defense spending targets if they’re threatened by Russia after he’s elected.

"The bottom line, to threaten someone that you don't sic [Russian president] Vladimir Putin on you if you don't do this, this and this tells me he's going to use revenge. That's how he's going to basically govern," Manchin said.

Manchin said now, he’s focused on the dark money group Americans Together that he's working on with his daughter Heather Bresch, a former executive with a pharmaceutical company that hiked the price of the injectible diabetic treatment Epi-Pen by nearly 500 percent over seven years.

Manchin said Americans Together seeks to do just that, mobilizing moderate voters and potentially building a viable third political party.

"That's a very, very, very difficult situation, you know. And is there ever a chance that we might be able to open up to where a third party could be more competitive? We need to examine that because the more competition, the better participation you get and you bring more people into the process," Manchin said.

Americans Together is a 501(c)(4), an IRS designation that means it doesn't need to disclose its donors. That's the same designation as No Labels, a group founded in 2009 that had been considering launching a third-party presidential ticket if the 2024 election was set to be a Biden v. Trump rematch. The group hasn't announced its plans on that front. But there are reports that No Labels has the backing of Republican donors and those who contributed to Trump's re-election campaign in 2020, leading some to suspect the group is working to help Trump return to the White House.

"Oh, I don't think so. Not the group. Not the people I know involved there," Manchin said when asked about that. "But they've said it might have might help him."

"The thing of it is, Joe Biden doesn't have a strong base. Let's face it. I mean, I know what's going on there. His base is not strong. It's very fluid," Manchin continued. "Donald Trump has a very strong base of anywhere from 26, 27 to about 30 [%], very strong. You can't move them. So they're saying if you are going to move somewhere, you're going to move Joe Biden's people more than you are Donald Trump's people."

On Americans Together, Manchin said it's "basically giving people options of how you can change your political dynamics when you feel like you've got no voice and you've got no home. And that's what we're trying to do and that's what we're really promoting. And that's why I'm here."

Manchin said in Columbus that dark money groups are needed "if you're trying to protect the people who don't want to be harassed because they might be given to something you don't agree with. But they're still good people." But he's also supported campaign finance reform. But when asked if he'll disclose the donors to Americans Together, Manchin said, "I will when everybody else does."

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at
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