--Manchin supported energy legislation that passed the state legislature calling for a 25 percent reduction in the amount of coal that West Virginia power plants can use over the next 15 years, an idea similar to what national Democrats are pushing. "It's Obama's cap and trade bill, West Virginia style,'' an announcer says in one Raese television ad.
The West Virginia Coal Association on Thursday endorsed Manchin, saying the energy law he backed would help -- not hurt -- the state's coal industry.
--Manchin supported Obama's signature health care overhaul, which polls poorly in the state. Raese calls it socialism rooted in bureaucracy and says he wants to repeal it.
--Manchin accepted federal economic stimulus money for his state, but he said it wouldn't "make a big difference in the job market.'' Republicans, including Raese, called it a boondoggle that has bloated the deficit.
"John's strategy is to run against Obama and expose Manchin for all the times he's said he's with Obama,'' said Eric Frankovitch, a Raese adviser who has known him since 1984, when Raese ran for the Senate against then-Gov. Jay Rockefeller. "When voters learn about Manchin's record, it's not a hard choice.''
That choice will be made more clear by outside groups. The National Republican Senatorial Committee jumped into the race last week and is spending $1.3 million in ads against Manchin; the National Rifle Association, typically a supporter of Republicans, is backing Manchin but has yet to commit spending.
That's not to say Democrats and their allies are without their own attacks. They have seized on Raese's vast personal wealth, which he inherited, and mock him for the pink marble driveway at his Florida vacation home. The 60-year-old Raese says the drive is peach-colored tile, and not of his choosing.
He has supported dismantling portions of the federal government, including the departments of education and energy. "When was the last time they made energy?'' he recently asked employees of an insurance company.
But Raese's anti-government rhetoric has its limits.
When a Delta Airlines pilot complained to Raese about what he calls unfair deals that allow international companies to buy U.S. planes at lower interest rates than U.S. companies, the candidate vowed to use the Justice Department to go after such sweetheart deals.