West Virginia Senate Battle Kicks off 2012 Election

The GOP is going after Sen. Joe Manchin over his support for healthcare reform.

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The 2012 fight for control of the Senate started this week with the GOP unleashing a three-pronged assault on West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin over his support for healthcare reform and President Obama. [See a slide show of 10 Democrats targeted for defeat in 2012.]

Picked in a special election to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd, rookie Manchin is the GOP's No. 1 target right now as each side tries to quickly build up his resume and identity going into the 2012 elections. In its three-way attack, Manchin has been hit with a National Senatorial Campaign Committee web ad, a full page ad in today's Charleston Gazette and in a robo call that highlights his support for healthcare reform. "Like we feared, he's become 'DC Joe' putting the liberal Obama agenda before West Virginia," reads the script from the robo call funded by the West Virginia Republican Party. The newspaper ad features a picture of Obama and Manchin in black tie together over the words: "Well, that didn't take long." The Gazette ad and robo calls were timed to coincide with Manchin's plan to meet with some 500 coal miners in Charleston today. Healthcare reform and Obama are unpopular in West Virginia and the GOP is testing themes there that they plan to deploy around the country in other major Senate races.

Manchin, a popular former governor know for his "coffee and common sense" meet and greets with voters, issued a statement on his vote to block repealing healthcare reform, saying that he wants to try to repair the flaws

Here's the NRCC Web Ad

West Virginia GOP robo-call text:

Hi, this is ______ calling with an urgent voter alert.

Earlier this week, a federal judge struck down President Obama's health care takeover as unconstitutional,

But last night, Senator Joe Manchin voted against repealing the health care law.

Listen to Senator Manchin in his own words: (audio clip) "I Am Totally Behind Health Care Reform."

Like we feared, he's become "DC Joe" - putting the liberal Obama agenda before West Virginia.

And we'll pay the price, with $500 billion in Medicare cuts, and $570 billion in tax hikes.

I'm not sure what's worse: Joe Manchin skipping votes, or showing up and voting against West Virginia.

This call was paid for by the West Virginia Republican Party. www.wvgop.com. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.