(Dominick Sansone, Headline USA) Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., fueled speculation that he may challenge Joe Biden for the Democrat nomination in 2024 after he claimed to be joking about entertaining the notion during a recent series of media interviews.
“I’m not running for president of the United States,” Manchin said in a radio interview with the show MetroNews last week. “I can assure you of that as we sit here today.”
However, he later backtracked from the statement during a subsequent interview on Fox News’s Sunday Morning Futures.
Manchin stated that his remarks were made only in “jest”, according to reporting by The Hill.
Host Maria Bartiromo pressed Manchin on his statement that he was not running for president.
“You have been in public service for 40 years” she began. “You told a radio interview this week that you will not be running for president. What are your plans? Will you run for reelection [to the Senate]?”
Manchin brushed aside the remarks, saying that his comments regarding a presidential run were simply the result of friendly banter.
“Well, the bottom line is, that was in jest,” he said. “We were talking back and forth, a dear friend of mine, Hoppy Kercheval. We talked. And he said, this minute, this time, this and this.”
Manchin then diverted the conversation to uniting Americans across bipartisan lines and working to bring the country together.
“My main concern—and to all of you and all of your viewers, my main concern is, how do we bring this country together?” he asked.
“How do we make it work?” he continued. “How do we make Democrats, Republicans become Americans again, and not just party affiliates? And we’re pushing people further apart, making people take a side, and then we’re rewarding for bad behavior.”
Manchin also avoided questions related to whether or not he still identified as a Democrat considering the party’s increasingly radical left-wing policy positions.
Currently completing his second full Senate term in the seat vacated by the 2010 death of ex-Ku Klux Klan wizard Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., Manchin, a former governor of West Virginia, is likely to face his toughest competition yet should he seek re-election next year.
The state has aligned itself increasingly with conservative Republicans and was second only to Wyoming in its support for then-President Donald Trump during the 2020 election, backing him by more than 68%.
Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., a member of the House Freedom Caucus, has already declared his intention to seek the Senate seat, and other top Republicans—including Gov. Jim Justice and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey—have been rumored as possible contenders.
Manchin has not yet stated whether he will seek the office again. He has also not explicitly ruled out a potential run for president.