Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, has decided to skip a major White House event on Friday, where President Joe Biden will announce his $3.5 trillion budget plan and his infrastructure deal with a bipartisan group of senators. The event, which will be attended by dozens of lawmakers and cabinet members, is seen as a show of unity and support for Biden’s agenda, which faces opposition from Republicans and some Democrats.
Manchin’s absence, however, signals his growing distance and dissatisfaction with Biden and his policies, which he considers too expensive and too progressive. Manchin, who is one of the most influential and independent senators in Congress, has often clashed with Biden and his party over issues such as voting rights, climate change, health care, and taxation. He has also expressed his frustration with the partisan gridlock and polarization in Washington, and has called for more cooperation and compromise across the aisle.
Manchin’s decision to skip the White House event also comes amid speculation that he is considering running against Biden in the 2024 presidential election. According to sources close to Manchin, he has been mulling over the idea of launching a primary challenge to Biden, who he believes is too old and too weak to lead the country. Manchin, who is 74 years old and has served as a governor and a senator, believes that he has the experience and the appeal to win over voters from both parties and to restore civility and stability in the nation.
Manchin has not officially announced his intention to run for president, but he has been making moves that suggest that he is preparing for a possible campaign. He has been traveling across the country, meeting with donors, activists, and media outlets. He has also been building his own political team and network, independent of the Democratic Party. He has also been sharpening his criticism of Biden and his administration, accusing them of being out of touch with the American people and their needs.
Manchin’s potential presidential bid poses a serious threat to Biden and his party, who are already facing a tough battle to retain control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections. Manchin’s popularity and influence in West Virginia, a state that voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020, could jeopardize Biden’s chances of winning the state’s five electoral votes. Manchin’s moderate and pragmatic stance on many issues could also attract voters who are disillusioned or dissatisfied with both parties.
However, Manchin’s presidential ambitions also face many challenges and obstacles. He would have to overcome the resistance and hostility of many Democrats, who view him as a traitor and an obstacle to their agenda. He would also have to compete with other potential candidates, such as Vice President Kamala Harris, who is widely expected to succeed Biden if he decides not to run for a second term. He would also have to deal with the scrutiny and criticism of his own record and reputation, which have been tarnished by allegations of corruption and nepotism.
Manchin’s relationship with Biden has been strained for months, but it reached a new low last week, when Manchin had dinner with one of Biden’s top aides at a Washington restaurant. The dinner was an attempt by the White House to smooth things over with Manchin and to ensure that he does not break ranks with Biden on key votes. However, according to sources who witnessed the dinner, the meeting was tense and awkward, and ended without any resolution or agreement.