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Wed, 18 Jun 2014 17:35:30 +0000
(WASHINGTON) -- One Democrat is getting roped into the 2016 presidential conversation by supporters, and it’s not Hillary Clinton.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is the latest Democrat to get a presidential draft campaign.
Michael Weber, a New Mexican political operative who most recently served as policy director for New Mexico State Senate Democrat Howie Morales’ campaign for governor, created the Twitter account @DraftJoeManchin on June 16.
Along with its pictures of Manchin and the White House, the account has more than 100 followers and has tweeted 30 times.
Weber, who worked for Manchin’s unsuccessful 1996 campaign for governor of West Virginia, is a longtime admirer of the senator’s “exceptional” leadership and centrist positions.
“He’s probably a little more conservative than me on the environment and gay rights, but on almost every other issue, I happen to agree,” he said.
Manchin, 66, has always been a popular Democrat in a red state, “comfortable talking to liberals and conservatives,” Weber added.
“He’s from the center, and can unite the country,” he said.
Weber’s campaign was a surprise to Manchin.
“Oh, yeah?” Manchin told ABC News when asked about the Twitter account. “Was it April Fools’ Day?”
Manchin hasn’t exactly put 2016 speculation to rest, and intends to keep “all options open” heading into the election year, including returning to West Virginia as governor.
While motivated by his belief that Manchin would make a good candidate, Weber says his campaign was prompted partly by Clinton’s book tour, and the attention the former secretary of state has received.
He decided on a Twitter account after watching Clinton “stumble out of the gate,” with her “dead broke” comment and testy exchange over her position on gay marriage.
“She seemed a bit rusty,” Weber said.
Weber has no plans for a Ready for Hillary-style tour bus -- though he likes the sound of “Ready for Joe” -- and he’s not sure what the next step will be.
But he expects to see more campaigns emerge between now and 2016, especially if Clinton remains in the spotlight.
“[Clinton] has weaknesses. I think there will be more and more interest in other candidates,” Weber said. “I don’t think it’s ever natural to coronate somebody.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
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