Get a load of this guy: "I will do anything I can to help my country, and you're saying, 'Does that mean you would consider [a presidential run]?' Absolutely.” That’s retiring Sen. Joe Manchin, in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" moderator Kristen Welker.
There are senators with delusions of their importance, and then there’s Manchin, who is in his mind the biggest fish in a tiny pond of 100 senators. He has had an outsized influence, it’s true, because with a mere one-vote majority, Senate Democrats have needed him. But being a warm body that fills a seat and casts votes—and occasionally scuttles a Democratic president’s primary policy aim—does not translate into mattering on the world stage.
Manchin is just as deluded about the very real possibility that his choice to run could swing the 2024 election to Donald Trump. “I’ve never been a spoiler in my life of anything, and I would never be a spoiler now,” he said in the interview. Presumably, this is because he believes he will win.
Speaking of spoilers, all the people disenfranchised in Republican states can thank Manchin for spoiling the passage of voting rights legislation last year, after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. Young families can thank Manchin for spoiling their expanded child tax credit. So many Democratic priorities, which could have made real differences in people’s lives, have been spoiled by Joe Manchin.
But let’s get back to the idea that American voters are hungry for the “moderate, sensible, commonsense middle” that he insists he represents. As Daily Kos’ Kerry Eleveld wrote last week, “virtually no voting bloc is clamoring for a Manchin presidential bid.” According to Civiqs polling, “Manchin polls highest among independents (the middle!) at 19% favorability (yikes!), falling to 16% with Democrats and 17% with Republicans.”
He’s going to take that anemic favorability rating all the way to the White House! Yeah, sure.
Even Manchin’s equivalent on the Republican side of the aisle, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, is dumping on the idea of a centrist-ish third-party run. You’d expect Romney, a disaffected Republican who is out of the mainstream of his party, to have an affinity with Manchin. Nope. He’s quick to throw cold water on any talk of him and Manchin teaming up. It’s simply “not going to be happening,” he told reporters earlier this week.
What Manchin will get, however, is a lot of ego-stroking and the promise of full campaign coffers from the shadowy, dark-money-funded No Labels, a “centrist” political organization without a coherent ideology. His potential run to save America doesn’t sound so lofty now, does it?
No one knows less about mobilizing the middle of America than Joe Manchin
The day after telling Texas Democrats he cares about voting rights, Manchin sells them out—in Texas
The centrist mask comes off the No Labels group