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Manchin appears with Clinton, shies from Obama

From NBC's Shawna Thomas
Morgantown, W.V. -- Continuing a whirlwind tour on Monday, former President Bill Clinton stumped for West Virginia Senate candidate Gov. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who has worked to distance himself from Clinton's Democratic successor - Barack Obama.

The former president tailored his speech for Manchin’s careful middle-of-the-road campaigning in a state where Democratic policies are increasingly unpopular.

"If people in this state weren’t hurting and frustrated and angry, he’d be ahead by 30 points and you know it," Clinton said of Manchin.

"I’m old enough to know that when you make a decision when you’re mad -- and this is not just [in] politics -- there’s about an 80% chance you’ll make a mistake," he added.

(Clinton was on message during the speech, but he couldn’t help but joke with the crowd when a woman in the front row
passed out. “At my age, rarely does a woman faint on me,” said the former president.)

His visit to the state came on a day when West Virginians were getting their first taste of Manchin’s
newest television ad, in which the governor slams Obama-backed health care and cap-and-trade legislation.

Just like in his new commercial, Manchin called the new health care law “Obamacare” and said that while there are many aspects of the bill he supports, there are an “awful lot of things in that bill that need to be fixed.”

In an interview after the event, Manchin was even more explicit. When asked whether he would’ve voted for the bill as passed he said, “No, I would not have voted for the final version of that health care law.”

Asked twice if he would like the current president to come to West Virginia, Manchin dodged the question, saying that Clinton had appeared on his behalf merely "as a friend."

“I’ve never had anybody come stump for me," Manchin said. "I don’t do that. Whether it be President Obama, with all due respect, or anybody else. I just have never been that type of a candidate. I think that I’m the one you’re going to have to vote for.”

After the speech, some of the diehard Democratic attendees seemed unfazed by Manchin’s criticisms of Obama’s policies. When asked how she felt about Manchin appearing to run away from his party, Morgantown resident Stella Konchesky said, “He likes to be his own person. You know, he’s still a Democrat but he wants to be his own person being a Democrat and there’s nothing wrong with that. “

Both she and her friend Alice Raley, didn’t seem to mind Manchin’s comments about health care. Raley said, “It isn’t perfect health care, but it’s the best we can get.” She continued, “I know that we were lucky to get what we got. It’s like a stepping stone. Without it we have nothing."