Reporting from Washington — Bruised by his Republican opponent's repeated suggestions that he would be President Obama's "rubber stamp" in Washington, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin brandishes a gun in a new campaign ad while telling viewers he would "take on Washington and this administration" if elected to the United States Senate.
The ad features Manchin's endorsement by the National Rifle Assn. In it, the governor says that he would take "dead aim" at a proposed cap-and-trade bill, and he shoots a mock copy of the legislation to drive home the point.
"I'll always defend West Virginia," Manchin said. "I'll take on Washington and this administration to get the federal government off of our backs and out of our pockets."
Manchin also said he would repeal the "bad parts of Obamacare," using conservative terminology to describe the national health care reform legislation.
Manchin was considered a strong favorite in the special election to complete the late Sen. Robert Byrd's unexpired term. But Republican businessman John Raese has used personal wealth to fund a series of hard-hitting campaign ads that say Manchin would vote lock-step with national Democrats and Obama, whose approval rating in the state was just 29% according to a recent Fox News poll.
The ad is particularly striking given how Democrats have criticized the Republican Senate nominee in Nevada, Sharron Angle, for once discussing "Second Amendment remedies" to the direction of Washington. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid featured in a response ad a self-described Republican NRA member, who called such talk "crazy" and "dangerous."
In another new ad, Manchin criticizes Raese for a Republican campaign spot in which hired actors were told to dress "hicky" to play West Virginians. It also claims Raese's family lives in Florida, and his wife is registered to vote there. "She can't even vote for him. Why should we?" the ad says.
Manchin is campaigning in West Virginia today with former President Bill Clinton, who carried the state both times in his runs for the White House. Hillary Clinton defeated Obama 67% to 25% in the state's May 13 presidential primary, one of her more lopsided victories in the long 2008 nomination battle.