Shinnston, West Virginia -- Democratic Governor Joe Manchin is running for the Senate seat formerly held by Robert Byrd, and to some it looks like he's running away from President Obama as fast as he can.
Manchin dropped in on a Spaghetti Dinner at Saint Ann's Catholic Church in Shinnston, West Virginia on Sunday, shaking hands and talking to parishioners who ate plates of spaghetti after attending mass. President Obama is hugely unpopular here where the coal industry is a massive part of the economy, mostly because of his stance on cap and trade legislation. Manchin takes every chance he gets to distance himself from Mr. Obama, "[The Obama administration] went too far... whether it be health care, cap and trade, the EPA regulations we're fighting."
However, at St. Ann's where along with the spaghetti dinner fundraiser they were also raffling off a Remington rifle, Manchin still could not escape the president, "You got too close to Obama," said one parishioner, pointing at Manchin. "That's what's defeating you." Manchin politely fired back, "You've been watching too much television."
Manchin's opponent, Republican businessman John Raese, has been hammering him as a potential rubber stamp for Obama in the Senate. The popular governor maintains he would be his own man and points to the wide array of support he is receiving, from service unions on the left to the National Rifle Association on the right.
According to the Real Clear Politics average of polls Manchin is leading by 4.5 percentage points and both sides are airing negative attack television ads. Raese says a vote for Manchin equals a vote for Obama, while Manchin counters that Raese spends so much time at his Florida home he should be running for senate in the sunshine state.
Manchin told Fox News that West Virginians only see Raese when he's running for election, "We stay right here in West Virginia and work through our problems, that's the difference... [West Virginians] know right where I've planted my feet, they know where my wife and I have always lived and where our heart is and where we'll always be."
Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.