(WASHINGTON) — No Labels, the bipartisan political organization, hosted an event Monday night that could preview a potential third-party presidential bid that would seek to court moderate voters in 2024.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., a Republican, rolled out the group’s new policy platform that they say is focused on common sense policies for a centrist White House.
No Labels co-chair Larry Hogan, the former Republican governor of Maryland, spoke to ABC News’ Linsey Davis about the organization’s policy positions and addressed fears that a third-party candidate could throw the election to Donald Trump.
LINSEY DAVIS: Over the weekend, No Labels released a policy manual called Common Sense, which serves as the party’s platform and draws direct contrast with President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Explain the main crux of this policy.
LARRY HOGAN: Well, look, this is an organization that’s been around for about 12 years, and the focus has been on coming up with common sense bipartisan solutions and, you know, an attempt to reach across the aisle to actually solve problems and get things done. And it’s basically about, you know, representing that 70% of America that is somewhat fed up with politics as usual. And they’re frustrated with both the Republican and the Democratic Party.
And 70% who do not want Joe Biden or Donald Trump to be president. And so this group is trying to come up with thoughtful proposals on about 30 different major policy positions. And, you know, I don’t agree with every single one of them, and nor should anyone. But they do represent a consensus in America and they try to find, you know, kind of the best.
I, what I did in Maryland as a Republican governor in a blue state was try to find the best ideas regardless of which side of the aisle they come from.
DAVIS: The policy platform addresses topics from immigration to gun control to abortion, but much of that has been tried before and failed to get through Congress, including calls for universal background checks and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. What about No Labels do you feel would create a different outcome?
HOGAN: Well, I just think that we’re at a unique point in time in America. I don’t, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it in my lifetime where not only, you know, 70% of the people don’t like the potential nominees of either party, but 59% said they would consider voting for a third alternative. 49% of the people in the country are now registered Independent, with only 25 or so being an either Republican or Democrat.
So we’ve never seen anything like that before. About 49% of the people say the No. 1 problem that we face is this kind of angry, toxic rhetoric, the fact that nothing ever seems to get done in Washington. And so, you know, who knows if this is ever, this is going to be a successful ability to bring people together. But it’s certainly worth trying.
DAVIS: Just yesterday, Doug Jones, former Democratic senator from Alabama, said of the group No Labels, “There is no way on God’s green earth that they can get to 270 electoral votes.” Your response to that?
HOGAN: Well, it’s a very steep climb, there’s no question about that. But the Democrats, you know, some Democratic insiders, they had a big closed-door secret meeting with the former White House chief of staff and a number of Democratic leaders there. You know, they’re taking this very seriously because they’re somewhat panicked and they’re afraid that it might hurt their side. But how do we know? We don’t know who the nominees are going to be. You can’t really run the race until you run the race.
But the goal of No Labels, they have no interest in being a spoiler. They don’t want to try to hand the White House to either Joe Biden or to Donald Trump. But I can tell you that, you know, if we get into next spring and those are the nominees and most people in America do not want that, then there’s certainly this possibility.
DAVIS: And I just want to dig in and put a finer point on that. Rick Wilson, a former Republican who’s the founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, told The New York Times about your group’s effort: “We like puppies and kittens and pie. They think they can be tapioca vanilla pudding as long as possible, to keep up the message, ‘Hey, we’re just centrist do-gooders. What could possibly go wrong? And the thing that could go wrong is the election of Donald Trump.’ What’s your response to that fear that your group will just take votes from Biden and hand them, hand the White House back to Trump?
HOGAN: Well, I’m not sure that that group that wasn’t very successful in the last election are the experts on electoral politics. And they certainly don’t have their finger on the pulse of what America is thinking. But certainly it could if they could only take away votes from Joe Biden and Donald Trump. But I don’t see why or how that could possibly happen if you had a Democratic candidate running that that was cutting into Joe Biden.
If you had a Republican running at the top of this unity ticket, it might cut more into Trump. But I get that this is a very unusual circumstance and most people don’t think it has any chance of happening. But they also didn’t think I could get elected in Maryland as the only the second Republican in 246 years to get reelected. But we did it.
And sometimes you get to the point where people are just completely frustrated and fed up and things that seem outside of the box actually might work.
DAVIS: And we were together a few weeks ago, and I asked you then what the likelihood was that you’d run for president and any chance that that likelihood is increased in the last few weeks and that you might consider running on the No Label ticket?
HOGAN: Well, Linsey, it was great being with you. And I remember you asking me the question that really my position really hasn’t changed. It’s not something that I’m pursuing. I’m spending my time, as I have been for the past couple of years, trying to get my party, the Republican Party, back on track. And I want to try to move us away from Donald Trump.
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