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Joe Manchin takes aim at the cap and trade bill (literally)

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) is up with a new ad in which he, literally, shoots at the controversial cap and trade legislation that passed the House last year in an attempt to show his independence from Washington Democrats.

The ad, which was produced by Karl Struble and goes up on the air statewide today, begins with Manchin loading a rifle as he notes that the National Rifle Association has endorsed his Senate candidacy against businessman John Raese (R).

"I'll take on Washington and this Administration to get the federal government off of our backs and out of our pockets," Manchin says -- adding that he would work to "repeal the bad parts of Obamacare."

In the ad's conclusion Manchin promises to take "dead aim" at the cap and trade bill as he lines up his rifle and shoots a hole through a piece of paper meant to symbolize the legislation.

The ad is a striking testament to Manchin's attempted distancing of himself from President Barack Obama and national Democrats.

It's also a virtual certainty that had a Republican candidate -- at any level -- run this sort of ad it would have created a major controversy given the focus on the anger among those on the ideological right.

While the controversy over a Republican ad in which a talent agency requested "hicky" looking actors has dominated the headlines in the race in recent days, this Manchin ad gets at the heart of the matter when analyzing whether or not the popular governor can win.

Obama is deeply unpopular in the state and the National Republican Senatorial Committee as well as Raese himself are doing everything they can to link the President and Manchin together at the hip.

To win, Manchin must prove to voters that he is distinctly different from the Democrats in Washington who are reviled by many West Virginians. His latest ad is a stark attempt to do just that.

We'll know whether it worked in 22 days time.

By Chris Cillizza  | October 11, 2010; 10:04 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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