Long Distance for Big Dough, the Latest on Tight West Virginia Senate Race

West Virginia Democratic Senate nominee and current Governor Joe Manchin attended a high-dollar Washington, DC fundraiser by phone Thursday night in the hopes of raising money for his vacillating Senate campaign.

The event, hosted by senior Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., charged guests $1,000-$5,000 for the opportunity to hear from the West Virginia Senate hopeful. Another publication erroneously reported that Manchin would be present at the event.

The Raese campaign contrasted Manchin's conference call with Raese's evening at an oyster roast in Bluefield, West Virginia. "While the governor was dialing for special interest dollars inside the beltway, John Raese shook the hands of 1500 West Virginians who overwhelmingly told him they didn't want to send a rubber stamp for President Obama to the U.S. Senate," said Raese Spokesman Kevin McLaughlin in a statement.

Though Manchin did not appear at the event, Republicans compared it to a last minute high dollar DC fundraiser in January by Martha Coakley, the Democratic nominee in Massachusetts' special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. The Republican, Scott Brown, won that race in part due to the perception among voters that Coakley was elitist and out of touch.

Manchin has seen a once massive lead over his Republican challenger John Raese vanish and now finds himself trailing by 3 points in the latest Fox News State Poll. Friday the Manchin campaign released an internal poll showing Raese trailing the governor 48 percent to 43 percent. Raese has erased a double digit deficit and seen his stock rise by presenting himself as a check on the policies of President Obama while portraying Manchin as a rubber stamp for the president.

Manchin has attempted to distance himself from the DC establishment several times during his campaign, including blasting, literally, with a rifle, the House passed cap and trade energy bill in a campaign ad.

Despite being up and down in the Senate contest, Manchin remains extremely popular as governor. According to the same Fox News poll, West Virginia residents give his work as chief executive a 69 percent favorable rating.