CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is calling on voters -- literally -- to support Earl Ray Tomblin in the Oct. 4 special gubernatorial election.
The Tomblin campaign Monday launched automated "robocalls" from Manchin to likely voters statewide, Tomblin campaign spokesman Chris Stadelman said.
In the call, Manchin says, "Let me tell you the truth about my friend Earl Ray Tomblin. Earl Ray worked very closely with me to put West Virginia's financial house in order, and he's continued to cut taxes and make the state better for business growth."
Manchin goes on to say that Tomblin is fighting for coal mining jobs, and is continuing the lawsuit challenging federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations, a suit launched in 2010 by the Manchin administration.
"Like me, he stands up for West Virginia jobs," Manchin says, in apparent response to a mailer sent out by Republican challenger Bill Maloney. In that flier, Maloney contends that, unlike Manchin, Tomblin has not stood up for West Virginia against Obama administration policies.
Manchin ends the call by stating, "Earl Ray is the right man at the right time to keep our state moving forward."
Stadelman said the campaign is pleased to have Manchin's support, citing Manchin's high job approval and popularity ratings in recent statewide polls.
"It's clear that Sen. Manchin agrees that Earl Ray Tomblin is the best person to be governor, and we're certainly pleased to have him on our team," Stadelman said.
He said the automated message is going out to persons identified as likely voters statewide.
Stadelman said he anticipates that Manchin will be campaigning for Tomblin during the final two weeks of the race, but said as of Monday, "We have not firmed anything up at this point."
Stadelman noted that Manchin also had come to Tomblin's defense over the weekend, giving media interviews debunking a Maloney attack ad that claims a federal audit found that funds from a stimulus program had been misspent "under Tomblin's watch."
"That's not accurate," Manchin told the Associated Press. "That was under my watch. That wasn't Earl Ray ... Once it was brought to our attention, we moved to correct things immediately."