As the seemingly bipartisan interest group No Labels discovered on Monday, a consensus campaign and governance is all well and good until it comes time for the details.
At an event at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH, the group had a bit of a soft launch of its potential third-party bid for the presidency when Sen. Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Jon Huntsman Jr., the former Republican. governor of Utah, formally released the political manifesto of No Labels for a political settlement.
The two men were at pains to say that they are not the bipartisan presidential ticket of a No Labels candidate, and that such a ticket would not be formed if the Republican and Democratic candidates for 2024 simply embraced their moderation — “that’s not going to happen if they’re not threatened.” ,” Mr. Manchin said menacingly.
In the high cause of cooperation and compromise, both men were all in, as were their introducers, Joseph I. Lieberman, a former Democratic senator turned independent, Benjamin Chavis, a civil rights leader and Democrat, and Pat McCrory, a former Republican governor. of North Carolina.
“The common-sense majority has no voice in this country,” Mr. Huntsman said. “They’re just watching the three-ring circus play.”
But the rev unity ticket seemed anything but unified when it came to the nuts and bolts.
One questioner from the audience expressed her concerns about worsening climate change, the extreme weather that is drenching New England and Mr. Manchin’s securing of a new natural gas pipeline in his home state.
To this, Mr. Manchin retreated on his personal preference, advertised in the No Labels manifestofor an “all of the above” energy policy that embraced renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, as well as continued production of climate-warming fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.
Mr. Huntsman jumped in to propose putting a “price on carbon,” something usually done through fossil fuel emissions taxes, to curb oil, gas and coal, proposals that Mr. Manchin, coming from a coal and gas state, flatly rejected.
Asked about gun control, the two couldn’t even agree on the relatively modest proposals in the No Labels plan: universal background checks on gun purchases and raising the purchase age for military-style semi-automatic weapons to 21 from 18.
Mr. Manchin, who co-wrote a universal background check bill in 2012 only to see it die in the Senate, said “there is a balance” to curbing gun purchases. Mr Huntsman hit back at his party’s decade-long avoidance of tighter gun regulation – mental health care.
They even seemed to disagree on Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the far-right Republican from Georgia. Mr Huntsman took the lead with his question about her statement that the US should withdraw from NATO, saying serious policymakers were too often asked about “the flamethrowers”. Mr. Manchin said he would not speak ill of any member of Congress.
“All 535 people elected to Congress want to do good,” he said.
One thing both men agreed on: No Labels should not reveal the big donors who are fueling the current drive toward a potential three-party bid for the White House. Democratic opponents of the effort have accused the group of hiding a list of donors that leans heavily Republican, evidence, opponents say, that the drive is about electing former President Donald J. Trump to a second term.
No Labels denied this but refused to reveal their current donors.
“I don’t think it’s right or good. I think there should be transparency and accountability,” Mr. Huntsman said of the group’s decision. “But that’s not how you play.”
He added, “The system sucks.”