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Another Joe may soon go for the White House.
Outgoing Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) kept the door open to a presidential run in an interview that aired Wednesday, affirming that he would “absolutely” think about seeking the highest office in the land.
“I will do anything I can to help my country, and you’re saying, ‘Does that mean you would consider it?’ Absolutely,” Manchin told NBC’s “Meet the Press” moderator Kristen Welker.
“Every American should consider it if they’re in a position to help save the country.”
Last week, Manchin announced he wouldn’t seek re-election to the Senate, forgoing an uphill battle to keep his seat in his ruby-red home state.
West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice launched a campaign for Manchin’s seat earlier this year and polls showed him unseating the Democrat.
The Mountain State went for former President Donald Trump by nearly 30 percentage points in the 2020 election and hasn’t backed a Democrat for president since Bill Clinton in 1996.
Manchin, 76, teased in a video statement announcing his re-election decision that his political career may not be over yet.
“What I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together,” he said at the time.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure, to mobilize that moderate, sensible, commonsense middle,” Manchin told Welker Wednesday.
The Democrat underscored that he is “totally, absolutely scared to death that Donald Trump would become president again,” warning “I think we will lose democracy as we know it” if that happens.
The centrist No Labels organization has been testing the waters for a third-party presidential contender, and Manchin has supported their efforts.
Over the summer, Manchin co-headlined a No Labels event in New Hampshire with former Utah Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman.
Looming over that prospect are fears among Democrats that a third-party aspirant could take support away from President Biden and pave the way for a Trump victory.
“I’ve never been a spoiler in my life of anything, and I would never be a spoiler now,” said Manchin, who indicated that he views March 5 — Super Tuesday — as the rough deadline to make a final decision.
During the first two years of the Biden administration, Manchin had emerged as a linchpin vote for Democrats in the 50-50 Senate.
He found himself under intense pressure from progressives, but wound up tanking multiple high-dollar iterations of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda nonetheless.
Last year, Manchin eventually came around to the watered-down $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which he has since criticized publicly.
In his NBC interview, Manchin also accused Biden of moving “too far left” during his presidency, though he defended the soon-to-be-81-year-old from criticism over his age.
“When I’ve met with Biden, we’ve always had a very active engagement,” the senator said.
With Manchin’s decision not to vie for the Senate, the Democrats’ math for retaining control of the upper chamber has gotten more difficult.
Democrats are defending 23 seats this cycle — Republicans are defending just 11.