Following outgoing West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's comment he would "absolutely" consider a 2024 presidential bid, the founding co-chairman of the national bipartisan group "No Labels" suggested the longtime moderate would make a good candidate.
Former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman — who served as both a Democrat and Independent — said Wednesday if 2024 becomes a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, he could see Manchin as a potential candidate for the group to unite around.
However, he underlined there is no guarantee "No Labels" will indeed field a candidate.
"Joe Manchin is a friend of mine. He's a great centrist. He really has walked the walk and worked on bipartisan problem-solving in Congress," said Lieberman, who was also the 2000 presidential running-mate for Al Gore.
In an NBC News interview, Manchin said he will do anything to help America, and that if that meant a presidential bid, then "absolutely" he would ponder it.
Lieberman said on "Your World" that "No Labels" will soon announce the establishment of a committee to review potential 2024 candidates. The panel will then make a recommendation to "No Labels" members later in 2024 if they decide to field a nominee.
"That process is just beginning," Lieberman said.
Other top "No Labels" organizational figures include former North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, former Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, ex-NAACP executive director Benjamin Franklin Chavis and former Missouri Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.
Host Neil Cavuto noted other lawmakers and more moderate figures have also been name-dropped as potential 2024 third-party candidates, including outgoing Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who was the GOP's failed 2012 presidential nominee.
Currently, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Cornel West and 2016 Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein are announced third-party candidates.
Lieberman said some of "No Labels" considerations still hinge on who the two major parties field in 2024, remarking that a large swath of voters neither wants former President Donald Trump nor President Biden in office.
"Third parties don't have a real track record since Abraham Lincoln of getting elected," Lieberman said, as third-party candidates have often played proverbial spoiler to the candidate they most closely ideologically align with.
Populist Texas billionaire Ross Perot fielded a strong third-party bid in the 1992 elections, leading many Republicans to blame him for then-President George H. W. Bush's loss to then-former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton.
In 1968, segregationist Democratic Alabama Gov. George Wallace ran as the nominee of the American Independent Party in an election ultimately won by California Republican Richard Nixon.
Earlier in 1912, former Republican President Theodore Roosevelt ran as a "Progressive" and split votes with GOP incumbent William Howard Taft — leading to a landslide for New Jersey Democratic Gov. Woodrow Wilson.
"Maybe this is such a moment, and that's why we're trying to keep the door open," Lieberman said on FOX News. "Joe Manchin deserves the most serious consideration if we get to that point."
"And here's the standard: We don't want to just do this for the sake of doing it if we offer our ballots to a third-party, unity-bipartisan ticket. We want to feel that we really have a chance to win and also that we're not going to be spoilers for one candidate or the other."
Manchin has also occasionally split from his party in high-profile moments.
In 1996, he endorsed eventual GOP Gov. Cecil Underwood after losing the Democratic primary, and recently has drawn the ire of the far-left wing of his caucus over his more moderate policy positions.
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