Murphy says Manchin third-party run would hurt Trump more than Biden

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Sunday said he believes a third-party presidential run by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) would take away more votes from former President Trump than from President Biden, while noting he isn’t “terribly worried” the West Virginia senator will launch a White House bid.

Manchin, 76, announced last week he will not seek reelection to the Senate in 2024, refueling speculation over a third-party presidential bid after floating the idea earlier this year.

Asked by NBC News’s “Meet the Press” anchor Kristen Welker how concerned he is that Manchin could run as a third-party candidate, Murphy said, “I’m not terribly worried about him running as a third-party candidate. If he does, he probably draws more votes from Donald Trump than he does from Joe Biden.”

In his announcement last week, Manchin said he will be traveling the country to work on a “movement to mobilize the middle,” which was perceived by some as a reference to his potential national aspirations.

Manchin in recent months has flirted with a 2024 presidential run with No Labels, a centrist party that has pushed for a third-party candidate in the midst of polling showing a likely rematch between President Biden and former President Trump in the general election. Earlier this year, Manchin headlined a No Labels event in New Hampshire, a key early-voting state.

The West Virginia Democrat’s decision not to run will likely give the Republicans a seat in next year’s election in deep-red West Virginia, capping off his 12-year hold on the vulnerable seat.

Manchin, who is considered one of the most moderate Democrats in the upper chamber, was expected to face a challenging reelection in 2024, with West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) increasingly becoming the favorite to win next year.

When asked if it will be tougher for Democrats to hold on to the Senate in 2024 in the wake of Manchin’s announcement, Murphy appeared to dismiss such concerns.

“Two years ago people didn’t think that we could hold the United States Senate. That we had to essentially draw an inside straight, win every single competitive race,” Murphy said. “But we did, in part because the Republican candidates were and still are wildly extreme. And our candidates were really excellent. And that dynamic is still in play in 2024.”

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