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Joe Manchin suggests Mitt Romney, Rob Portman as potential running mates as he flirts with third party ticket

Sen. Joe Manchin considers Sen. Mitt Romney or ex-Sen. Rob Portman as potential running mates for a hypothetical third-party presidential bid.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., said he'd pick Sen. Mitt Romney or former Ohio Republican senator Rob Portman as potential running mates in a hypothetical third party presidential run.

"Hypothetically, if I was picking my running mate… really, who I would ask right now is Mitt Romney," Manchin said at the City Club of Cleveland breakfast forum on Thursday. 

"Maybe Rob Portman would be right there too," Manchin added. "Rob is a dear friend of mine. What a good man, what a good man."

MANCHIN HINTS AT POTENTIAL THIRD-PARTY RUN AFTER SUPER TUESDAY: ‘PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR OPTIONS’

City Club CEO Dan Moulthrop moderated the forum, which had roughly 150 people in attendance, and repeatedly probed Manchin on whether he would jump in the race. 

"Guys, listen, I’m not running for anything," Manchin said. "I’m basically running to try to get people involved."

Manchin's comments come as he has been flirting with a third party presidential bid in recent months, with his two-month "listening tour" sparking even more speculation that he will throw his hat in the ring. Both Manchin and Romney announced last year they would not seek re-election to the Senate in 2024. 

The West Virginia Democrat has positioned himself as a centrist politically compared to his more progressive colleagues in the Senate and has repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Manchin's daughter, Heather, started a nonprofit last summer called "Americans Together," aiming to unite the country's moderate voters away from the "extremes" of the left and right. If Manchin does announce a presidential run, he'll likely use the nonprofit to bolster his campaign.

"We stand against extremism in politics. It has taken over our political system and taken away our voice," the Americans Together campaign website states. "As proud Americans, we agree on more than we disagree. We demand that our politicians put country before party to get things done. Enough is enough."

MANCHIN 'ABSOLUTELY' CAN SEE HIMSELF AS PRESIDENT, THINKS BIDEN HEALTH OR TRUMP CONVICTION COULD GIVE OPENING

Manchin has previously said he would decide after Super Tuesday — when multiple states hold their primary elections or caucuses simultaneously, making it a significant day for candidates to secure delegates — on March 5. 

"Super Tuesday pretty much confirms whatever is going to happen, what we believe will happen, and we'll see where we go from there," Manchin told reporters on the day of the New Hampshire primary. 

Fox News Digital reached out to Romney and Portman for comment. 

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