Alaska Sen. Murkowski says she would prefer Manchin for president over Trump or Biden

WASHINGTON — Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that if the 2024 presidential election comes down to incumbent President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump, she would support a potential third-party candidate, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

“I tell you, if it’s a matchup between Biden and Trump, I know exactly where I’d go. I would go with Joe Manchin. I am one who doesn’t like to use my vote for the lesser of evils, I want to be proactive in who I think could do the job,” Murkowski said during a PBS interview set to air in full Friday. “I think Manchin could do the job.”

Recent polling shows an extremely narrow path to victory for a third-party candidate in the upcoming presidential election. A third-party presidential candidate has not come close to winning office in modern American history.

Murkowski said, “I do think about what a third party will bring to the equation. We’ve seen it before on multiple occasions, very wealthy people who had an opportunity to fund their race, who weren’t able to cut through. You know, maybe it was just not the right time. Maybe now would be a more opportune time.”

Interviewer Margaret Hoover asked how Murkowski would determine that a vote for Manchin wouldn’t benefit Trump.

“I would really have to do some serious evaluation, and again, this is July of 2023,” Murkowski said. “And who knows? Who knows what’s going to happen in the months ahead? We just don’t know.”

Manchin, a moderate Democrat who — like Murkowski — has a record of bucking his party, is being courted by centrist group No Labels to consider a third-party presidential run. Manchin spoke this week in New Hampshire with the organization, increasing speculation that he could be mulling a campaign.


Prominent members of the Democratic Party have decried the idea of No Labels putting forward a third-party candidate, saying it would likely only benefit Trump.

Murkowski and Manchin are close friends, and though they belong to different parties, the two moderates have endorsed each other in Senate campaigns.

Murkowski lamented the possibility the 2024 presidential race could be a Trump-Biden rematch.

“If we go into a 2024 scenario, where it’s basically a redo of 2020 between Trump and Biden, what does that say? That we have nobody better than these two?” Murkowski said. “And so an independent or somebody who is offering something in the middle, people are hungry for that.”

Murkowski also again criticized the former president, calling him a “bully.” She was one of seven Senate Republicans to vote to convict him after the Jan. 6 insurrection. She has also been critical of Biden administration policies, particularly those around federal land use in Alaska.

“You have an individual that’s running for the presidency, with two indictments against him, with the potential for perhaps a third. An individual who, in my view, defied and undermined his oath of office, which is to first and foremost protect and defend the people of this country,” she said. “In my view, this former president incited an insurrection on the Capitol. To me, it should be done, it should be over, but apparently for many Republicans in this country, they have chosen to look beyond that.”

Though recent polling indicates Trump is leading among Republican voters, Murkowski said she sees a path for another candidate to win the Republican nomination.

But she also acknowledged that indictments against the former president appear to have boosted Trump’s favorability in the polls.

“I don’t understand why, with the strong candidates that we have right now. (South Carolina Sen.) Tim Scott, what an honorable man. Look at (former South Carolina Gov.) Nikki Haley, what she has already demonstrated with her leadership,” she said.

She said Republican candidates are “trying to figure out how they cut through the Trump noise.”

“And it may be that if we see, for instance, (former New Jersey Gov.) Chris Christie gaining traction because he is more forthright with his words, that perhaps the others will be more bold in that way,” Murkowski said.

The full interview airs on “Firing Line with Margaret Hoover” on PBS at 4:30 p.m. Friday Alaska time.

Support our reporting

Reporter Riley Rogerson is a full-time reporter for the ADN based in Washington, D.C. Her position is supported by Report for America, which is working to fill gaps in reporting across America and to place a new generation of journalists in community news organizations around the country. Report for America, funded by both private and public donors, covers up to 50% of a reporter’s salary. It’s up to Anchorage Daily News to find the other half, through local community donors, benefactors, grants or other fundraising activities.

If you would like to make a personal, tax-deductible contribution to her position, you can make a one-time donation or a recurring monthly donation via adn.com/RFA. You can also donate by check, payable to “The GroundTruth Project.” Send it to Report for America/Anchorage Daily News, c/o The GroundTruth Project, 10 Guest Street, Boston, MA 02135. Please put Anchorage Daily News/Report for America in the check memo line.

Riley Rogerson

Riley Rogerson is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Washington, D.C., and is a fellow with Report for America. Contact her at rrogerson@adn.com.