Toomey and Manchin Try to Show Independence

Posted October 24, 2010 at 9:51am

Two Senate hopefuls locked in highly competitive contests used the Sunday talk show circuit to defend their records and distance themselves from unpopular figures in their respective parties.

West Virginia Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin used his appearance on “Fox News Sunday” to show how he differs from President Barack Obama, while former Rep. Pat Toomey (R), who is trying to beat Rep. Joe Sestak for the Pennsylvania Senate seat, argued that it is unfair to try to align him with his state’s neighbor, Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell.

Toomey, who is in a virtual dead heat with Sestak, said he differs with O’Donnell on many issues including her positions on getting rid of the 14th Amendment. He said any attempt to link the two is “pretty silly.”

Toomey added that Sestak “is so worried about his own record that he’s trying to run against someone who a lot of people who have never heard of and who I’ve never met.”

Sestak did not appear on the program. The two men are trying to succeed Sen. Arlen Specter, whom Sestak defeated in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary earlier this year.

Manchin used the same program to defend his record and make the case that if elected, he wouldn’t be a rubber stamp for Obama, as his opponent John Raese claims. Manchin argued that he opposes the president on issues like a cap-and-trade energy policy and health care reform.

“We are a different type of Democrat here in West Virginia,” Manchin said.

Manchin is incredibly popular as governor, but his race with Raese has continued to tighten. In Sunday’s appearance, he was asked to defend his positions on health care and cap-and-trade, with anchorman Chris Wallace showing clips suggesting he had supported the two initiatives in the past.

Manchin insisted that he’s always been against cap-and-trade and said that although he previously suggested he would have voted for health care reform, he wouldn’t now that he knows it contains features like mandates for coverage.

Knowing “how far-reaching it was, I wouldn’t have voted for it,” Manchin said.