West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, the Democrat in the race to fill the seat held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd, escalated the ad war with Republican opponent John Raese with two spots released this weekend.
Raese came under fire last week for ads aired on his behalf by the NRSC that called for “hicky” looking actors in Philadelphia to portray West Virginians, and the flap it caused played directly into Manchin’s strategy of painting his opponent as out of touch with the state. One of Manchin’s new spots takes Raese to task for the Raese ad and hits him for his second residence in Palm Beach.
In the second spot, Manchin puts some distance between himself and the Obama administration, touting his endorsement by the National Rifle Association. He notes that he’s against cap and trade, and like many Republican candidates, is for repealing parts of the health care bill. He also pledges to vote to keep spending down.
For his part, Raese launched a new ad on Friday, hitting Manchin for some of the same issues and telling viewers that the governor will be a “rubber stamp” for the Obama administration – even as Manchin has denied Raese’s claims about the governor’s position on cap and trade legislation.
“I’m not perfect, but you don’t have to be to know Obama’s policies have hurt us,” Raese says in the ad. “ObamaCare means big government; cap-and-trade hurts coal; Obama’s tax increases hurt families. And Joe Manchin rubber stamps all of these.”
The West Virginia race has tightened to a dead heat in the last month. The RealClearPolitics average shows Raese leading Manchin by 4.5 percentage points.
If the GOP is to retake the Senate in 2010, West Virginia must be in the win column.