MANCHESTER, N.H. – The founding co-chair of No Labels says it’s not a done deal that the centrist group will sport a bipartisan, third-party presidential ticket, if President Biden and former President Donald Trump are the major party nominees in the 2024 election.
‘We haven’t decided to run a ticket. It’s not even clear that if it ends up being Trump and Biden, as it looks like it will now, that we’ll do that,’ former Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut said in an interview with Fox News Digital ahead of No Labels town hall Monday in New Hampshire where the group will formally unveil its policy platform.
But speculation is mounting about a third-party ticket following last week’s announcement by No Labels that moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia would serve as an honorary co-host of the group’s ‘Common Sense’ town hall, which will take place at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester.
Manchin, who often clashes with his party’s progressive wing, Senate leadership and the White House, has yet to announce whether he will seek another six-year term in the Senate in 2024 in a state that’s turned dark red in recent years. He’s also refused to shut down speculation about a possible presidential run.
The senator is serving as an honorary co-chair of the No Labels event, along with former moderate Republican Gov. of Utah Jon Huntsman, who later served as ambassador to China in President Obama’s administration before running unsuccessfully for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.
‘I think No Labels invited Joe Manchin and Jon Huntsman because they’re former chairs of our organization and they represent centrist Democrats, centrist Republicans, which is what we’re about,’ Lieberman told Fox News. ‘I guess it’s natural for people to speculate, particularly in Manchin’s case whether it means he will run on a possible No Labels ticket year. It’s way too early to say that. I think Joe hasn’t decided that at all, as he’s said, and No Labels hasn’t decided it.’
No Labels for months has been discussing the possibility of bipartisan, third party ‘unity ticket’ the organization could field in next year’s presidential election if it appears the nation is headed for a Biden-Trump rematch in 2024, which poll after poll has indicated many Americans would like to avoid.
Lieberman, a former longtime senator from Connecticut who served as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in the 2000 election and ran unsuccessfully in 2004 for his party’s presidential nomination before winning a final election to the Senate in 2006 as an independent, reiterated that No Labels is aiming to get on the ballot in all 50 states in order to be in the position to possibly field a third party ticket next year.
‘We call it the insurance policy project. We’re trying to qualify for a third ticket, bipartisan ticket in all 50 states. We’re working hard at that now,’ Lieberman explained.
But he emphasized that ‘we want to make sure is that we’re not going to be spoilers. We’re not going to elect one or another of the candidates. We want to run because we think we have a chance to win. And if we don’t have a chance to win, at least we will bring a different voice to the national debate in the election next year, which is toward the center and putting the country first and not the interest of the political parties first.’
Lieberman has praised Manchin, telling Fox Digital in May that Manchin, along with two other moderates – Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and former GOP Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland – ‘are very active members of No Labels’ and ‘would be naturals to consider’ for any potential third-party ticket.
But No Labels CEO and co-founder Nancy Jacobson told Fox News last month that ‘this is too premature. We have not made any decisions,’ regarding a 2024 presidential ticket.
And Lieberman, ahead of Monday’s No Labels event, reiterated that ‘we haven’t really started to think about candidates, although naturally the media and others are.’
But he added that ‘we are going to start a process by the fall in which we can both talk to people who may be interested in being on a bipartisan party ticket, or frankly reach out and ask some people to think about it. And I think we want this search to be as wide as possible. Not just current elected officials or former elected officials but a lot of the other areas of leadership in our country.’
No Labels has already raised over $30 million as part of its effort to get on the ballot in all 50 states. And if it does move forward towards launching a third-party White House run, the potential ticket would likely be unveiled at the group’s national convention, which will convene next April in Dallas, Texas.
Democrats have been raising alarms for months about a third-party ‘spoiler’ effort that could upend the 2024 elections and allow Trump to win back the White House. And former longtime House Democratic leader Richard A. Gephardt is planning to launch a new bipartisan group this week to oppose the potential No Labels third-party presidential effort.
‘I have the greatest respect and affection for Dick Gephardt, so I guess I’m disappointed that he’s taken this leadership role,’ Lieberman said.
And he argued ‘I think the Democrats have really, totally overreacted to what we’re doing. Look, they’ve got a problem now. Trump is either close or ahead of Biden in all the polling we’ve seen lately. I think to focus on No Labels and the possibility we would run a third ticket – even though we said over and over again we’re not going to do it if we think it will elect Trump – is just frankly wasted time.’
‘I don’t know what the Dick Gephardt group is going to do but somebody out there is convincing state election officials to try and block us from gaining access to the state ballots even when we’ve submitted enough signatures and satisfied enough legal requirements,’ Lieberman claimed. ‘Frankly that goes beyond freedom of expression. They’re violating a constitutional right that the Supreme Court has upheld which is that people have a right of political association, to form a new party and try to gain access to the ballot. I certainly hope and trust that Dick Gephardt won’t be part of doing anything like that.’
But Lieberman stressed that Monday’s gathering in New Hampshire, the state that for a century’s held first presidential primary in the race for the White House and which is a key general election battleground, is not about presidential politics.
‘I know Monday in New Hampshire we’re going to try really hard to bring this back to our Common Sense policy agenda, which is in very specific terms our way of saying in the 2024 cycle at the presidential level and Congressional level, No Labels offers this program which is aimed at getting American politics back from the extremes, back to the bipartisan center where great things have always been accomplished in American history. We can do it again.’
Lieberman, pointing to No Labels polling and conversations with the public, highlighted that Americans ‘are actually in a lot more agreement than the leading spokesmen in the Republican and Democratic parties would have you believe. I think the Democrats and the Republicans have unfortunately divided America much more than it really is and I think most of the American people want to come back to the center, back to unity, and back to solving our problems, and that’s what No Labels is about.’
And Lieberman, spotlighting his group’s platform, argued that ‘neither of the two major political parties would put out a policy agenda like this.’
‘There’s a way to come back from extremes from both sides. There’s a way to come back from just fighting each other across party lines and to adopt something that will really make a majority of the American people satisfied or happy because a lot of what we’re recommending in this Common Sense policy agenda really follows an opinion of the majority of the American people,’ he emphasized.