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Joe Manchin says New Hampshire trip not about running as a third-party candidate – but does not rule it out

<i>Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters</i><br/>Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia seen in Washington
Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia seen in Washington

By Manu Raju, CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent

(CNN) — Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia told CNN on Wednesday that his decision to travel to New Hampshire with the group No Labels – which is pushing for a third-party centrist candidate – is not related to any such plans to seek the White House as an independent.

“No, no, this is nothing about a third party, this is nothing about bringing up any office at all, it’s about a dialogue for common sense, which is very hard to have here, finding commonality,” Manchin said on Capitol Hill. “And we’re going around the country basically talking to people who want this commonality and common sense approach to how we fix problems. It’s not happening here.”

But he again wouldn’t rule it out and downplayed the fact he’s going to New Hampshire, an early primary state, saying he plans to travel to other states as well.

“I’ve never ruled out anything or ruled in anything,” he said. “This is a strictly a conference we’re having for common sense.”

Manchin, who is up for reelection for his US Senate seat next year, told CNN he simply is trying to have a “dialogue for common sense.”

The senator though wouldn’t say if he shared concerns that a third-party bid could hurt fellow Democrat, President Joe Biden.

“So here’s the thing, the most important thing is: How do we help democracy do what it’s supposed to do? How do we help the process, the political process that we have do what it’s supposed to? That’s that common sense discussions to find out what the American people would like to see accomplished,” Manchin said. “Not just basically the toxic atmosphere we have because of the political parties.”

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