No Labels Town Hall With Joe Manchin And Jon Huntsman Raises Speculation Of Third-Party Bid

This is the season of political town halls, but there’s one on Monday evening that is garnering some attention in the media pundit class: An event featuring Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman designed to promote the group No Labels.

The streamed event from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH, is designed to outline a No Labels policy agenda as the group looks to get behind a third-party presidential ticket, focused on the idea that there is a “common sense” bipartisan solution to political polarization.

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Kevin Cirilli, correspondent for Scripps News and former chief Washington correspondent for Bloomberg Television, is serving as moderator of the event. He is not affiliated with No Labels.

No Labels has had plenty of pushback from Democrats, who see such a third-party bid as hurting Joe Biden’s reelection chances more than it would a Republican nominee, potentially returning Donald Trump to the White House. And for all the talk of the lack of bipartisanship, Biden’s team points to a list of legislative accomplishments that drew support from both parties, including the infrastructure bill and gun violence legislation. “Never Trump” conservatives like Bill Kristol, meanwhile, also have been critical of the No Labels effort.

Manchin has not said whether he plans to run for re-election, where he faces a tough fight in his solid-red home state, nor has he ruled out a No Labels-backed presidential bid, as the group works to obtain ballot access. In announcing the town hall event, Manchin said, “It is clear that most Americans are exceedingly frustrated by the growing divide in our political parties and toxic political rhetoric from our elected leaders.” He and Huntsman will be joined by former Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman; former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory; Benjamin Chavis, former director of national intelligence Dennis Blair; and former Reps. Fred Upton, a Republican, and Joe Cunningham, a Democrat.

Manchin, meanwhile, has been raising money for another Senate campaign, with donors including Viet Dinh, chief legal and policy officer for Fox Corp., according to the latest campaign finance disclosure reports. Sources say Dinh hosted a fundraiser for Manchin in April, around the time that the West Virginia senator appeared at the Milken Global Conference in Beverly Hills. The Fox Corp. Political Action Committee also donated $10,000 to his campaign, along with the Comcast/NBCU PAC, which gave $2,500; the Cox Enterprises PAC, which has given $3,500; and the National Association of Broadcasters, which has given $5,000.

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