Sen. Manchin names Sen. Romney as top pick for running mate if he launches independent presidential run

 February 16, 2024

If retiring Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) were to mount an independent or third-party presidential bid this year, failed 2012 GOP nominee and fellow outgoing Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) would be his first choice as a running mate, Breitbart reported.

Manchin has teased for months about a possible presidential run as a moderate and centrist alternative to the likely major party nominees of President Joe Biden for the Democrats and former President Donald Trump for the Republicans.

The West Virginia senator also named former Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), another moderate member of the GOP establishment, as a possible running mate, which could prove necessary since Romney has repeatedly expressed his lack of desire for another campaign for the presidency.

Manchin floats hypothetical running mates

Fox News reported that Sen. Manchin addressed a small gathering of about 150 people during a breakfast forum on Thursday at the City Club of Cleveland in Ohio as part of a nationwide "listening tour" he has been engaged in to measure potential support for an independent presidential run as a moderate centrist.

Asked repeatedly about the possibility of a presidential campaign by City Club CEO Dan Moulthrop, who moderated the forum, Manchin replied, "Guys, listen, I’m not running for anything. I’m basically running to try to get people involved."

However, if he were to launch such a campaign, the Democratic senator said, "Hypothetically, if I was picking my running mate … really, who I would ask right now is Mitt Romney."

Manchin added, "Maybe Rob Portman would be right there, too. Rob is a dear friend of mine. What a good man, what a good man."

Possible No Labels "unity ticket" of moderate centrists

Fox News noted that Sen. Manchin has been hinting for several months that he was considering an independent presidential run as an alternative for voters dissatisfied with the likely major party choices of President Biden and former President Trump.

Such a run, if it were to occur, would presumably be as part of a "unity ticket" put forward by the No Labels organization, which similarly seeks to stake out a position in the ideological moderate center and appeal to voters left feeling "politically homeless" and "tired of the extremes on the left and the right."

The news outlet further observed that a Manchin run could also align with and be supported by a centrist 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization known as Americans Together, which was launched last summer by the senator's daughter, Heather Bresch, and is run by a couple of his former associates and friends in West Virginia, according to The Intercept.

That nonprofit, which is ostensibly unaffiliated with the senator, is pursuing a similar track as the No Labels group in that it seeks to appeal to voters turned off by the ideological extremes of both the far-left and the far-right.

Romney shoots down speculation about presidential run

If Sen. Manchin is serious about mounting a presidential run, he might consider skipping over his first choice of Sen. Romney as a running mate and move directly to former Sen. Portman or some other centrist moderate, based on a report from Utah's Deseret News.

When asked about Manchin's comments about him being a prospective running mate, Romney replied jokingly, "Well, that’s really presumptuous. I would be the president. He would be my running mate."

The soon-to-be-retired senator, whose prior presidential bids in 2008 and 2012 fell short, added more seriously, "No, I’m not going to run for president. Certainly, I’m not running for vice president. But (Manchin is) kind to say that. We’re good friends."

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