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Manchin Joins Lineup for No Labels Town Hall, Fueling Third-Party Speculation

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has joined the lineup for No Labels’ “Common Sense” town hall, fanning the flames of rumors that he is considering a third-party run for president.

The senator will join former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) as a keynote speaker at the centrist political group’s event, which is scheduled for July 17 at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Other guests will include former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R), civil rights leader Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., former U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, former Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), and Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.).

Earlier this week, No Labels announced the launch of its new “Common Sense” agenda, offering 30 policy proposals for the United States’ biggest challenges, including the national budget, energy, immigration, inflation, education, and the nation’s role on the world stage.

The agenda invokes the title of Thomas Paine’s 1776 pamphlet advocating for American independence from Great Britain.

“At a moment when candidates in both parties too often speak only to the small sliver of voters who show up in their primaries, ‘Common Sense’ speaks to, and for, everyone else,” No Labels said in a July 10 news release. “Even if No Labels never offers our ballot line to a presidential ticket, we hope and believe Common Sense can shape the debate in 2024 and force candidates on both sides to respond to the concerns of the commonsense majority.”

Polling has consistently shown that President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump lead the Democratic and GOP presidential primary fields, respectively. Wary of a 2020 rematch, No Labels has suggested that it might put forward a “unity ticket” comprised of one Democrat and one Republican.

But that possibility ultimately depends on whether the two major parties “wake up,” the group noted in an April 2 memo.

“Both parties keep forcing the American people down a road they don’t want to go and nominate candidates most Americans don’t want to vote for,” No Labels said. “If this happens, and No Labels’ polling and research show there is a path to victory for a unity ticket to win in the Electoral College, then we will offer our ballot line to a ticket.”

Manchin Fuels Speculation

Rumors have swirled for weeks that Mr. Manchin might be preparing to launch a third-party presidential bid, and the senator has done little to dispel the reports. On June 4, he told Fox News he was “not ruling anything in, not ruling anything out.”

“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 … that you better have that Plan B available and ready to go,” he said.

As to whether he intends to be “Plan B,” the lawmaker didn’t say in that interview. However, his participation in the upcoming town hall might be a hint.

In a July 12 statement, Mr. Manchin noted: “It is clear that most Americans are exceedingly frustrated by the growing divide in our political parties and toxic political rhetoric from our elected leaders. Our political discourse is lacking engaged debates around common sense solutions to solve the pressing issues facing our nation. I am looking forward to modeling this type of conversation with my good friend, Gov. Huntsman, and the No Labels community.

“The things that unite Americans are much stronger than the things that divide us,” he said, “and I am confident that will be evident throughout our discussion.”

The centrist senator has often been a thorn in the Democratic Party’s side for his willingness to vote with Republicans on certain issues.

Energy has been one such sticking point. Given the coal industry’s significance to the West Virginia economy, Mr. Manchin has frequently criticized the Biden administration’s aggressive promotion of green energy.

In May, amid the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) push for stricter carbon emissions limits on fossil fuel-fired power plants, he pledged to block all of the administration’s EPA nominees.

“This administration is determined to advance its radical climate agenda and has made it clear they are hellbent on doing everything in their power to regulate coal and gas-fueled power plants out of existence, no matter the cost to energy security and reliability,” Mr. Manchin said in a May 10 statement.

“I fear that this administration’s commitment to their extreme ideology overshadows their responsibility to ensure long-lasting energy and economic security, and I will oppose all EPA nominees until they halt their government overreach.”

Huntsman Mulling Second Run?

From Mr. Huntsman, a presidential run would be less surprising as it wouldn’t be his first.

In June 2011, he entered the Republican primary race only to drop out in early 2012 and endorse the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney.

As of yet, however, the former governor and diplomat has not given any indication of whether he is considering a third-party bid for the White House.

Addressing the No Labels town hall in a statement, he said: “New Hampshire has long occupied a unique place in American politics, which makes it a special place to discuss the most important issues facing our country. There’s never been a more critical time to remind ourselves that we are all Americans.”

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