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Manchin announces he won’t be running as a third-party candidate

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin announced during an appearance in Morgantown Friday that he will not be running for president.

“In the long game maybe we can make a third party viable when it has the process and opportunity, but right now it is very, very challenging and I am not going to be a deal-breaker, spoiler, whatever you want to call it. I just don’t think it’s the right time,” Manchin said.

Manchin, who previously announced he would not be seeking reelection to the U.S. Senate, has been traveling the country for the last couple of months in search of the middle as part of the Americans Together movement. He told reporters Friday that would continue.

“I’m thinking, ‘Where can I do the most good?’ I think by going around the country and educating and trying to help people who truly feel as homeless and helpless as so many millions of Americans. We’ve got to move and mobilize this sensible middle,” Manchin said.

The current political climate, according to Manchin, is about picking a side.

“And once you pick a side … have to hate the other side and if you hate the other side and that’s your enemy you have to destroy them. That’s not America. That’s not basically how you find compromise and move forward,” Manchin said.

Gov. Jim Justice who is running for U.S. Senate said Friday Manchin would have taken votes away from President Joe Biden. Justice, a Donald Trump supporter, said Manchin was probably getting a lot of pressure from his political party.

“Joe getting out, probably got out at the guidance of a lot of Democrats who were pushing him in a lot of different ways,” Justice said.

Justice added that Manchin would have been a “formidable” opponent had he chosen to seek reelection to the Senate.

Manchin has long been linked to the No Labels group and being part of a Unity ticket.

A report out from a Manchin stop in Cleveland Thursday quoted the senator as saying he would not rule out Sen. Mitt Romney as a possible running mate or Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.

Manchin hasn’t committed one way or the other to running until the Friday announcement.

He gave examples Friday of how Americans Together might work.

“It’s supporting movements, supporting people that would like to change their primary process in their state. Or supporting candidates who felt like they couldn’t get involved because they didn’t have the political backing or financial backing. We want that support mechanism to be Americans Together,” Manchin said.