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Bill Clinton Stumps for Manchin in West Virginia

And Manchin continues to run from Obamacare.

11:39 AM, Oct 12, 2010 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Morgantown, W. Va.

Bill Clinton Stumps for Manchin in West Virginia

With Bill Clinton at his side and the Monongahela River in the background, West Virginia governor and Democratic Senate candidate Joe Manchin spent much of yesterday's rally distancing himself from President Obama and the national Democratic party. “Have you heard this commercial about a ‘rubber stamp’?” Manchin asked the crowd, referring to an ad charging he’ll be a “rubber stamp” for Obama in Washington. “Let me tell you something. The only rubber stamp that I have ever been or I will ever be is for you and the state of West Virginia.”

Manchin, as governor of one of the biggest coal producing states in the country, has publicly opposed cap-and-trade as part of the Obama agenda--emphasizing the point most recently by literally shooting a copy of the bill with a rifle in a new ad. But his position on the Democrats’ health care law is more difficult to pin down.

On March 15, 2010, at a meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington, D.C., Manchin was asked if he would vote for the final version of the health care bill if he were a member of the House of Representatives. “I’d be for it,” he responded. “You’ve got to move this ball forward.” President Obama signed the bill into law a week later, and Manchin has since said there are parts of the law he’d like to see repealed. Now, he’s saying he never said he was for the bill; instead, Manchin says he was expressing support for “health reform” in general.

“No one knew what the bill was,” he said. “No one knew the extent of that bill. Even today they’re still trying to find out.” Regarding the law’s health insurance mandate and its provisions on the IRS 1099 forms, “Those have to go," he said. “That’s not who we are in West Virginia.” Manchin said on Fox News yesterday that the entire health care law may have to be repealed if it can't be fixed.

This is smart politics for Manchin. A recent Fox News poll showed only 29 percent of West Virginians approve of the job Obama is doing, one of the worst approval ratings in the country for the president. The same poll found 63 percent of those polled favor repealing the health care law.

Bill Clinton seems to believe some emotional forces are at work in West Virginia against Manchin: “I’m old enough to know that when you make a decision when you’re mad, there’s about an 80 percent chance you’ll make a mistake.”

Clinton then did his best to whip up sentiments against Republican candidate John Raese by portraying him as an elitist outsider.

“I’m here for a lot of reasons,” Clinton said. “One is, I don’t think it’s fair for West Virginia to have one senator and Florida to have three.” Manchin has criticized Raese for owning a large home in Palm Beach, Florida, though Raese says he lives and votes in West Virginia. The Manchin campaign was caught yesterday photoshopping a picture of Raese and his wife in front of their Florida home and darkening his wife's skin.

“I figured somebody would jump on me for coming in here to help the governor,” Clinton continued. “But then I figured, they won’t say anything about me because anybody would rather have a guy from Arkansas come in than pay actors from Philadelphia to do it.” The Raese campaign has come under considerable fire for a recent ad with actors portraying West Virginians criticizing Manchin. A revealed copy of the casting call for the ad, filmed in Philadelphia, asked for actors who looked like “hicky” blue-collar workers.

“Don’t let this guy [Raese] play you,” Clinton also said. “You stick with Joe Manchin, he’s what you know.”

The race hasn’t been polled since the ad controversy, but the Republican Raese has had a slight lead, five to six points over Manchin since the beginning of October. That’s a considerable swing from when Manchin had a double-digit lead in July. Clinton had an explanation for his friend’s drop in the polls.

“If people in this state weren’t hurting and frustrated and angry, he’d be ahead by thirty points and you know it,” Clinton said.

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