April 1, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Manchin Does Delicate Dance to Distance Party

Prior to Manchin addressing about 200 seniors, Colleen Skotnicki, who said she is in her 70s, described herself as an undecided voter unhappy with all of the negative advertising in the Senate race and concerned about the solvency of Social Security, the prospect of higher taxes, and the outsourcing of jobs to other countries.

But after Manchins remarks, which featured his trademark cheerleading about the real West Virginia, the strength and resourcefulness of its people, and the good shape of the states finances versus the Mountain States national reputation as a rural backwater Skotnicki changed her tune and volunteered that she will support the governor over Raese. Hearing his speech, Im voting for Joe, she said. This is how he needs to talk to us.

The political dilemma for Manchin has been so problematic that even in front of friendly Democratic audiences, he makes assurances that he opposes the health care reform bill as passed and would have voted against it, does not support Obamas energy policies and would work against the White House and Senate Democratic leaders on other issues.

But After several days on the defensive, Manchin who previously served in the state Legislature and as secretary of state, appeared buoyed about his chances following the warm reception he received in Elkins. Early voting is West Virginia is scheduled to begin tomorrow.

I think were coming together at the right time. We didnt anticipate this race, because I just thought Sen. Byrd would live forever. So with that being said, I just wasnt prepared. I just never felt the day would come, Manchin said in an interview Saturday afternoon. We just took a while to ramp up, and now were serious. Our people are all serious. I think people in the state are serious. Theyre starting to look, and theyre going to judge you, and I really believe that people in West Virginia judge you on what youve been able to do, not what somebody tells you theyre going to do.

Going National

In contrast to Manchins regular-guy magnetism, Raese is reserved and businesslike, although personable and not without a sense of humor. Where Manchin focuses on pumping up the pride of West Virginians against outsider criticism, Raeses campaign message emphasizes national concerns.

Regardless of the group Raese is addressing, students, parents, industry representatives or GOP activists, he consistently speaks about the countrys need to return to Constitutional values, renew the belief in American exceptionalism and prevent Obama from dismantling free-market capitalism. Raese describes himself as to the right of the tea party, deviating from conservative orthodoxy only in his support of government-funded unemployment benefits.

When I make speeches and when I talk, I talk about things that we can do to make this country better. I talk a lot about capitalism, Raese said in an interview Thursday evening, following an address to the Association of Cold Rolled Strip Steel Producers at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs. When you travel around West Virginia, you dont have to look at any polls... people are angry, theyre upset, theyre hot whatever you want to say. And, the reason they are, they dont like the direction this country is going.

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