CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Joe Manchin began an ad campaign Wednesday by invoking Robert Byrd and attacking John Raese for running attack ads, entering what could an eight-week war of words.
"This campaign has just begun, and John Raese is attacking me like he attacked Sen. Byrd," Manchin said in the 30-second ad, his first of the campaign. "Washington is filled with people like John Raese who tear others down. No wonder we are in this mess."
Republican Raese's campaign accused Democrat Manchin of irony, while also acknowledging Raese's own attacks.
"I find it incredibly ironic that he talks about our attack ad in an attack ad," said Raese campaign manger Jim Dornan. "And it's typical Joe Manchin - it doesn't deal with any of the issues.
"Where's the beef? I'd like some substance," Dornan said. "I think the voters would like some substance."
Raese has been going after Manchin for being a "rubber stamp" for President Barack Obama and attacking the president's policies and the governor's support for them.
Asked if the campaign's own ads could be more substantive, Dornan said, "There's nothing wrong with being against bad policy."
In its most recent ad, the Raese campaign attacked Manchin for supporting Obama's "liberal agenda," "government-run health care," cuts in a part of the Medicare program that were used to help offset health care reform costs and tax increases.
Manchin, in turn, touted his work as governor for the last six years.
"We succeeded because we worked together. That's what Washington needs," Manchin said.
"John Raese's attacks drag us all down."
Isaac Wood, an editor at Sabato's Crystal Ball, the political forecasting website, said Manchin is trying to make it look like a negative campaign began because of Raese - an argument that may hold, if only because Raese put out his ads first.