Manchin, Raese Set to Meet in Only Debate

Manchin, Raese Set to Meet in Only Debate

By Kyle Adams - October 18, 2010

West Virginia Democratic Governor Joe Manchin and Republican John Raese, locked in a neck-and-neck battle for the late Robert Byrd's Senate seat, will meet tonight in Morgantown in the race's first and only debate.

The debate, which will take place at 8 p.m. ET at the West Virginia Public Broadcasting studios, will also include Mountain Party candidate Jesse Johnson and Constitution Party candidate Jeff Becker. It will air live on C-SPAN.

Manchin, the state's popular governor and heavy favorite to win the seat when he announced his candidacy in July, has been weighed down by President Obama's unpopularity in the state. According to a recent CNN/Time poll, 63 percent of West Virginia likely voters disapproved of the president's job performance.

As a result, Raese and the national Republican Party have attempted to turn the race into a referendum on Obama, claiming that the governor would be a "rubber stamp" for the president in Washington and arguing that "a vote for Manchin is a vote for Obama."

Manchin, for his part, has attempted to distance himself from the administration and its policies. He told RealClearPolitics last month that he would support repeal of some elements of the health care reform law, and he recently aired an ad that featured him literally shooting the cap and trade bill.

The Democrats have also attempted to paint Raese, who has run unsuccessfully for the Senate twice before, as an out-of-touch businessman and carpetbagger. Raese has a home in Florida, and his wife isn't eligible to vote in West Virginia.

Republicans also ran into a bit of trouble when an NRSC vendor used the term "hicky" to describe the kind of actors it wanted for a recent ad. Manchin's campaign jumped on the flap with a spot that claimed that "John Raese thinks we're hicks."

Heading into tonight's debate, Manchin holds a narrow lead over Raese in the RCP Average.

Kyle Adams can be reached at

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