Sen. Joe Manchin will not run for president

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WASHINGTON – West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin will not run for president, after debating for months whether to launch a third-party bid.

Manchin made the announcement during a speaking engagement at West Virginia University for his recently created nonprofit Americans Together, which is aimed at connecting and empowering moderate voices.

Joe Manchin
Joe Manchin

“I will not be involved in a presidential run,” Manchin, 76, told the crowd. “I will be involved in making sure that we secure a president who has the knowledge, has the function and has the ability to bring this country together.”

He argued that “the system right now is not set up” for candidates not affiliated with either major political party to win the presidency but said that in the “long game” there could be room to make a third party viable.

Manchin has for months flirted with the idea of entering the 2024 presidential campaign as an independent candidate and previously said he would consider running on a bipartisan unity ticket formed by the group No Labels.

Just a day before he announced he would not run, Manchin had floated the idea of appearing on the November ballot with Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who was the 2012 Republican nominee. Romney dismissed the hypothetical hours later, saying he had no plans to run for president again.

Manchin and No Labels both had separately emphasized that they would not be “spoilers” in the 2024 election and would not launch a bid they believed they could not win, or that would cost President Joe Biden the election.

No Labels said in a statement shortly after Manchin's announcement that it is still considering launching a unity ticket and is "speaking with several exceptional leaders" about the opportunity. The organization previously set a deadline of mid-March to make the decision.

Manchin has been traveling across the country since mid-January as part of a "listening tour" for Americans Together, which he founded with his daughter to “build a bridge between popular will and political outcomes.”

The centrist Democrat announced in November plans to retire from the Senate, after serving 14 years. He would have faced an uphill re-election battle in his increasingly Republican home state, which voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020 by a roughly 40% margin.

Prior to his time on Capitol Hill, Manchin served as the governor of West Virginia.

Throughout his years in government, Manchin has built a reputation as a moderate who often stands to the right of his Democratic colleagues on issues related to spending and energy. At the end of his speech on Friday, Manchin acknowledged that record and encouraged more politicians to lean into bipartisanship.

“I don’t pledge allegiance to the Democratic Party of America. I don’t pledge allegiance to the Republican Party of America,” he said. “I don’t pledge allegiance to anything else except the United States of America.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sen. Joe Manchin will not run for president