White House dances around Manchin not endorsing Biden’s campaign ‘right now’

The White House skirted questions Tuesday regarding Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) decision to withhold an endorsement of President Joe Biden‘s 2024 reelection campaign.

Manchin, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, announced in 2023 that he would not seek reelection in 2024, fueling speculation that he himself might mount a third-party bid for the White House. However, Manchin announced in mid-February that he would not run for the presidency but said in an interview with CNN on Monday that he would not be endorsing Biden “right now.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced two questions on Manchin’s apparent snub while traveling with Biden to California on Tuesday, but she chose not to directly engage with his comments.

“The president has had a very good working relationship with Sen. Manchin the last three years. The two of them, along with other congressional members, have been able to get some historic legislation passed on behalf of the American people, whether it’s the CHIPS and Science Act, whether it is the American Rescue Plan,” she said. “I can’t speak to his decision. That is something for him to speak to. We appreciate, obviously, our working relationship with the senator and I’m not going to talk politics.”

Reporters pressed Jean-Pierre on whether Biden was “disappointed” by Manchin’s decision, but she simply reiterated that the president has had a “very good relationship with the senator over the past three years.”

In recent weeks, new doubts about Biden’s age and general fitness for office have reentered the public sphere after special counsel Robert Hur, who had been investigating Biden’s mishandling of classified documents after leaving the vice presidency, wrote in his report that the president exhibited a failing memory in interviews with his office.

The White House has heartily pushed back on that characterization, with Vice President Kamala Harris even insinuating that Hur, who had been appointed by former President Donald Trump, was seeking to influence the coming election.

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You can listen to Tuesday’s gaggle in full below.

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