Although U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has ruled out running for another term in Congress, he has made it clear that he does not intend to retire completely from the political realm.
Manchin has been able to carve out enough support in the heavily Republican state with his rare status as a moderate Democrat, and there is currently speculation that he will launch a third-party White House bid aimed at appealing to centrist American voters.
During a recent radio interview, he emphasized his effort to give a voice to the “radical middle” and even took some direct shots at his own party for its steady drift leftward.
Specifically, he criticized President Joe Biden, who campaigned as a moderate but has been beholden to the far-left wing of the Democratic Party since taking office.
“Joe Biden has been pulled so far to the left, the extreme left, as far as liberal,” Manchin said on Sunday. “Makes no sense at all. It’s not the person we thought was going to bring the country together.”
Of course, he acknowledged that the divisive nature of American politics extends far beyond the White House, explaining that D.C. “wants you and I to be divided and the rest of America to be divided because it’s a better business model for them.”
The West Virginia Democrat cited his own experience over more than a dozen years on Capitol Hill as a motivating factor for his current career trajectory.
“I’m not going to change it from within,” he admitted. “And I’ve decided to go around and see if I can mobilize the radical middle.”
His recent remarks have not included any confirmation of presidential ambitions, but they similarly have not ruled anything out.
In a previous CBS News interview, Manchin responded to a question about whether he plans to run for president by asserting: “I don’t know what the future lies. I know that we can’t continue the direction we’re going.”
During the same interview, he declined to signal whether he would support either Biden or GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump in next year’s election, going on to describe a sort of existential political crisis he has been experiencing.
“I’m a Democrat,” he said. “I’m an American first. I’m an American. I’m an independent, I think. I don’t know what I am. I can tell you this, I feel comfortable working with both sides.”