Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has created a lot of confusion in the media over his potential presidential ambitions of late.
The centrist Democrat told a radio interviewer that he had no intention of running for the White House in 2024 in a program broadcast on Wednesday, February 22, reported The Hill. However, during a subsequent interview with Maria Bartiromo on her "Sunday Morning Futures" show on Fox Business, Manchin walked back these remarks.
Highlighting that Manchin had been "in public service for 40 years," Bartiromo pressed Manchin on his true intentions, asking "You told a radio interview this week that you will not be running for president. What are your plans? Will you run for reelection?”
In reply, Manchin said "Well, the bottom line is, that was in jest. We were talking back and forth, a dear friend of mine, Hoppy Kercheval. We talked. And he said, this minute, this time, this and this."
He added that his "main concern"is "How do we bring this country together? How do we make it work? How do we make Democrats, Republicans become Americans again, and not just party affiliates? And we’re pushing people further apart, making people take a side, and then we’re rewarding for bad behavior.”
Another aspect of Manchin's discussion with Bartiromo that has set tongues wagging relates to whether he still regards himself as a Democrat.
Bartiromo pointedly asked him several times, "do you still identify as a Democrat?" Manchin refused to give a straight answer, eventually saying "I identify as an American."
This line of questioning is related to Manchin's doggedly centrist voting record in Congress. He has repeatedly refused to toe the party line on key issues, something that has proven very difficult for Democrats due to their thin majority in the chamber since President Joe Biden's election.
Last May, for example, Manchin joined Senate Republicans in voting against a Democratic bill that would have codified the Roe v. Wade abortion rules in legislation, Vanity Fair reported. He was the only Democrat to do so.
In January of last year, he was joined by Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) in voting against an effort to pass a Democratic voting rights bill on a simple majority, rather than requiring the usual 60 votes, reported The Washington Post.
The most significant factor in deciding whether Manchin, or any other Democrat, has a realistic chance of winning the White House in 2024 is current President Joe Biden.
The 80-year-old has faced widespread criticism over his perceived lack of mental acuity since he took office, with many highlighting his string of gaffes as evidence that he's not up to the job. However, he has thus far remained adamant that he's not stepping away from presidential politics just yet.
On Friday, February 24, First Lady Jill Biden gave a further indication that her husband isn't finished in the White House yet. Speaking to the Associated Press during an official visit to Nairobi, Kenya, Dr. Biden said "He’s not finished what he’s started. And that’s what’s important."
"How many times does he have to say it for you to believe it?" she added.
Should Biden decide not to run, or should he have to contest a primary, there are many other left-wing stars that could be in with a better shot than Joe Manchin.
In December of last year, The Washington Post published its list of likely frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2024. Manchin did not feature in the article.
According to the Post, the most likely winners (other than the current president) are Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D).