Daily Kos Founder Markos Moulitsas appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, where he pushed No Labels Co-chair Pat McCrory on the organization’s overblown claims about the popular demand for a third-party presidential candidate in 2024. But first the roundtable conversation focused on Vivek Ramaswamy’s much-discussed, extremely obnoxious performance in the first Republican presidential debate.
“I don’t think most of them wanted to attack him,” Moulitsas said of the other candidates on the stage. “I think he just got on their nerves. He was so fricking obnoxious. He was a little chihuahua biting at their ankles and they finally couldn’t take it anymore.”
Ramaswamy’s obnoxiousness was substantive, not just irritating: “Who is this—who is this? I mean, can you imagine somebody who admitted he hadn’t even thought about foreign policy until six months ago mansplaining to Nikki Haley, who was the U.N. ambassador, about foreign policy?”
The conversation later discussed obnoxiousness of a different kind: No Labels’ efforts to promote the idea that there’s huge demand for a third-party presidential candidate.
There simply isn’t real demand for a third-party candidate, Moulitsas said in a crosstalk-filled section of the discussion. No Labels, he said, “is literally a movement that says, ‘We stand for nothing.’ Imagine going to Walmart or Target and seeing no labels on a product.” No Labels’ platform doesn’t mention abortion, he noted, instead focusing on “barn-burning issues such as medical tort reform. That’ll light up the audience.”
But, he said, “the problem isn’t that they don’t like Biden or Trump. It’s that you are creating this idea that there’s a mythical unicorn creature that will agree with these people who want something else. That doesn’t exist.” Moulitsas cited a Monmouth poll showing that support for a third-party run drops substantially when actual candidates—in that case, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman—are named. People are much more interested in the vague idea of a third-party candidacy than in any reality. And the talk about Democrats wanting an alternative to Biden is overblown, he pointed out:
Biden’s actually very popular among Democrats. In Civiqs polling – Civiqs with a “q” – Biden is sitting around 80% with Democrats. There’s no space. You think there’s no space for an anti-Trump? There’s really no space for an anti-Biden. And, there’s a reason – you talk about, you know, popularity? You see – right now, you see Republicans going to groundbreaking ceremonies for Build Back Better and for Inflation Reduction Act, taking credit for projects that they voted against.
So where’s the real demand, he wanted to know—and Chuck Todd took up his question about the “magical unicorn creature” on which No Labels seems to be basing its claims about 2024.
“Pat, can you give us some names?” Todd asked. “Because, you know, Manchin and Huntsman, that’s not going to get you your unicorn. What other candidates –”
”I don’t think there’ll be a shortage of candidates,” McCrory kept saying while refusing to actually name any candidates. McCrory promised that No Labels would be “very transparent” at a nominating convention, with Moulitsas taking that opportunity to press him to be transparent about “who funds your movement.”
Those are the questions for No Labels that every reporter needs to be asking its leaders: When you say there’s demand for a third-party run, who is actually going to be that candidate and how is that real-life candidate polling? And where’s the money for all this coming from?