Kimberly A. Strassel of The Wall Street Journal recently reviewed the plight of Democratic incumbents in the U.S. Senate. Some seek to serve with President Barack Obama by sounding as if they are running against him.
The headline called them "the Manchin Candidates of 2012," but the strategy is not confined to West Virginia.
"If next Wednesday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remains top dog, it will be because many Democratic candidates won by running as Republicans," Strassel wrote.
- In North Dakota, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who once called ObamaCare a "legacy vote," now says of the president: "You're wrong on energy. You're headed in the wrong direction. You made bad decisions."
- In Nebraska, Sen. Bob Kerrey seeks re-election by criticizing the president for "terrible mistakes," including intelligence leaks and ignoring his own debt commission.
- In Montana, Sen. Jon Tester says he was the only Democrat who voted against the big bailouts.
- In Florida, Nevada and Virginia, Democratic contenders back Obama's tax hikes on "the wealthy," but say they would not start at $250,000, as he would.
Strassel is skeptical of such "vows of independence."
"Retiring Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad (North Dakota) and Ben Nelson (Nebraska), and former Sen. Evan Bayh (Indiana), made a career out of positioning themselves at home as moderates, even as they voted for every liberal agenda item in Washington," she said.
"Mr. Reid is betting that every Senate Democrat - regardless of campaign promises - will be persuadable when the time comes."
Well, will they?