POLITICAL INSIDER: Clinton vs. Palin in W.Va.

AP News
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Posted: Oct 12, 2010 3:14 AM
POLITICAL INSIDER: Clinton vs. Palin in W.Va.

It is the Comeback Kid against the Mama Grizzly in West Virginia's Senate race.

Former President Bill Clinton spent Monday in West Virginia, hoping to boost Gov. Joe Manchin's campaign as it struggles against wealthy Republican businessman John Raese. Meanwhile, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced she was backing Raese on her Facebook page, hoping to again demonstrate her political roar.

"He did every single thing you want Washington to do," Clinton said of Manchin during an event in Morgantown, W.Va. If it weren't for the nation's economic struggles, Clinton said, Manchin would "be ahead by 30 points, and you know it."

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EDITOR'S NOTE _ An insider's view of this year's elections based on reports from around the nation.

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But the economy is a mess and Manchin is in a tight race.

Manchin enjoys high popularity in the state and was assumed to have an easy route to the seat left open by Sen. Robert Byrd's death. But Raese has closed in, and strategists from both parties are now paying close attention to the race.

West Virginia hasn't sent a Republican to the Senate since 1958. Byrd, who died in June at age 92, held the seat for more than 50 years, but the GOP and its allies are spending millions on ads trying to tie Manchin to the Democratic-controlled White House and Congress.

"The last thing Washington, D.C., needs is another rubber-stamp vote for President Obama and the liberal agenda," Palin wrote, parroting Republican criticism of Manchin.

In a swipe at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Palin said: "John Raese has the courage and independence to stand up to the Washington politics of Reid and Pelosi. He'll do what's right for West Virginia."

She urged her supporters to back a slate of picks, including candidates in Virginia, Michigan and Arizona.

"A commonsense grass-roots movement is determined to get our country back to its founding principles and constitutional roots," Palin wrote. "I hope you'll join me in supporting a few more patriots this November _ because we need their voice and their votes in D.C."

Clinton is the last Democratic presidential candidate the state supported.

"I don't blame anybody for being mad. We've had a huge economic body blow," Clinton said. "But I'm old enough to know that if you make a decision when you're mad _ and this is not just politics _ there's about an 80 percent chance you're going to make a mistake."

Tuesday is the last day to register in that state.

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Add chief ski bum to former Sen. John E. Sununu's resume.

Sununu will serve as chairman of an investment group that bought New Hampshire's Waterville Valley ski area last week. His brother, Chris Sununu, led the purchase from California-based Booth Creek Ski Holdings last week. Both are sons of former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu, who also invested in the property and is the state GOP chairman.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, though Chris Sununu _ who is running for a seat on the Executive Council, a five-member state panel that approves contracts and nominations _ has indicated the sale price was less than $12 million.

The resort was developed in 1965 by Olympic skier Tom Corcoran on 4,000-foot Mount Tecumseh in the White Mountain National Forest. The ski area includes 52 trails and 12 lifts and employs 50 permanent and up to 500 seasonal workers.

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Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek isn't backing away from his support of President Barack Obama as he tries to win a U.S. Senate seat, happily accepting the president's help as Republicans nationwide make gains by criticizing his agenda.

Meek's campaign released a statewide radio ad on Monday that Obama recorded for him. In the minute-long ad, Obama lists policies that Meek has supported, including health care and financial regulation overhauls.

While it may seem a strange strategy at a time when there's voter backlash against Democrats, Meek is also in the unusual situation of having to win over Democrats supporting independent Gov. Charlie Crist, who was a lifelong Republican until leaving the party in April after falling behind Marco Rubio in the GOP primary.

"There are very few that are in a three-way race like I'm in," Meek said. "If the president of the United States wants to support my campaign, I will welcome his support."

Meek highlighted his support for the Obama agenda during the first two general election debates, defending his vote for the health care overhaul and saying the $787 billion stimulus kept the country out of a depression. Rubio, a former Florida House speaker, has built his lead with the opposite message, saying Obama's policies have been a disaster.

"Kendrick Meek has been a reliable rubber stamp for the Obama agenda of higher taxes, wasteful spending, more debt and job-killing regulations," said Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos. "So it's not surprising that the White House would cut an ad for its favorite congressman."

Meek, who appeared with Obama at a fundraiser on Monday, will also have Clinton campaign with him twice before election day.

"As people are making their final decisions, there's a lot of soft support out there for the governor," Meek said. "Voters in the final analysis will vote for the Democratic candidate. Period."

Crist didn't respond to a request for comment.

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Associated Press writers Vicki Smith in Morgantown, W.Va., Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H., and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.