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Powerful centrist group mulling third-party run addresses Manchin rumors head on

Democrats have been raising the alarm about a third-party “spoiler” effort that could upend the 2024 elections.

Fears appear to be increasing that Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia may join a third-party presidential ticket, which could potentially sink President Biden’s re-election chances. 

If Manchin – who as a moderate Democrat often clashes with his party’s progressive wing, Senate leadership and the White House – does choose to mount a White House bid, Democrats fear they’ll lose his seat in increasingly GOP dominated West Virginia, and potentially surrender the chamber’s majority.

But No Labels, a centrist organization that’s already taking initial steps to set up a bipartisan, third-party “unity ticket” in next year’s presidential election, says it’s way too early to say if Manchin would be the standard-bearer on a potential 2024 ticket.

But he’s also refused to shut down speculation about a possible presidential run.

“Not ruling anything in, not ruling anything out,” Manchin said earlier this month when asked in a “Fox News Sunday” interview if he was mulling a third-party bid on a No Labels ticket.

Asked on Capitol Hill on Wednesday by Fox News if talk of a possible presidential run is just a lot of drama, Manchin answered, “No.”

“He was at our launch in 2010. He is the honorary co-chair with Sen. Susan Collins… and he is a terrific legislator,” she told Fox News.

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman – another No Labels co-founder – emphasized in a Fox News Digital interview last month that Manchin, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and former GOP Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland may be considered for the potential ticket.

Lieberman said they “are very active members of No Labels” and “would be naturals to consider” as he pointed toward their “strong records of bipartisanship and getting things done for the country and for their constituents.”

As a key vote in the Senate, Manchin has made plenty of headlines during Biden’s presidency. He’s grabbed the spotlight for sinking a handful of the president’s nominees, and for slashing and reshaping the party’s trillion-dollar spending package into what became known as the Inflation Reduction Act.

A source in Manchin’s political orbit told Fox News that the attention surrounding the senator isn’t affecting him.

“I don’t think it impacts him in any way. This is the same guy he’s been. It’s just the political landscape that’s changed. He’s not a different person. More people now are paying attention to him, but he’s always been this guy,” the source said.

The centrist group is in the process of forming a nominating committee to likely begin considering potential running mates for a 2024 ticket.

“My guess is that committee will begin to make lists of who we should consider if we decide to run a ticket,” said Lieberman, a former senator from Connecticut who served as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in the 2000 election and ran unsuccessfully in 2004 for his party’s presidential nomination before winning a final election to the Senate in 2006 as an independent.

Jacobson said No Labels’ mission is to “provide a choice for Americans if we come to 2024 and this country doesn’t want the choices that are served up, we’re getting [on] the ballot in all 50 states to offer Americans a choice if they want it. We call it an insurance policy.”

Lieberman emphasized, “We’re not about electing either President Trump or President Biden.”

Fox News’ Tyler Olson and Andrew Murray contributed to this report

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