Probably not the best choice of words. Goodness it's hard to get this distancing thing right.
The election is not about Manchin or Tomblin.
The question is not how they will vote in November either.
The question before the electorate is how Manchin would vote in the U.S. Senate, and how Tomblin would act if re-elected governor.
Governing is a team sport.
As Obama adviser David Axelrod made clear in his blasé response to Manchin's declaration of uncertainty.
"His concern is about his own political well-being," Axelrod said. "He's running for the Senate in that state. We didn't win the state the last time. It's going to be a tough state for us again, and he's making a political judgment about himself.
"I would hope that the country's interests will enter into it as well, and that ultimately he will be supporting the president."
Translation: Residents of a state that the administration has harmed are expected to elect a senator who will back the administration.
So dismissive was Axelrod of what West Virginians think that he didn't know or care that he had unwittingly validated Republican John Raese's campaign barb against Manchin the last time around:
The Democratic Party expects Manchin - and Tomblin - to toe the line.
But West Virginians don't send senators to Washington or governors to Charleston to work for presidents.
Voters put people in place to represent them.
Manchin and Tomblin, trying to preserve the first option while creating the impression that they're actually about the second, probably left many voters less certain about voting for them.
Maurice is editorial page editor of the Daily Mail. She may be reached at 348-4802 or ha...@dailymail.com.