This story was written by Colin Booth, The Daily Athenaeum
Candidates for the West Virginia democratic ticket assembled in Westover Sunday afternoon to rally and galvanize the Monongalia County base.Gov. Joe Manchin and Sen. Jay Rockefeller were among the most prominent state candidates speaking to the crowd of nearly 200 democratic voters and local political leaders before making similar appearances in Bridgeport and Farmington, W.Va.They spoke on the strength of the party ticket, pointing to the advantage of sharing the ballot with Ill. Sen. Barack Obama, who leads most national polls but is behind Sen. John McCain in West Virginia.The event was designed to reach beyond the reliable University student democratic base, which is considered by campaign officials to be solidly Democrat.The candidates spoke on a broader range of state and national issues to an audience comprised of older Monongalia residents.Ive heard everyone talk about this Joe the Plumber, Manchin said, Ive heard of Joe the Carpenter, Ive heard a little bit of Joe the everything, and Im thinking; I dont know about those Joes, but I know about Joe the Governor, Manchin said, then referring to himself as Joe the Governor.He recounted a recent conversation he had with Obama to the audience. He said that Obama compared winning West Virginia to the cherry on the most beautiful cake youve ever seen.He said Obama believed he could carry the state.Rockefeller, heavily favored in his bid for reelection in the Senate, talked mostly about his respect for Obamas intellect and their shared past as community organizers.Only Rockefeller brought up the vice presidential candidates, briskly dismissing the republican nominee.Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, how does that work out? Rockefeller said. Well, lets just say it works out real easy.The terse comparison was met with laughter.Nick Casey, Chair of the West Virginia Democratic Party recalled his past experiences with West Virginia turning blue in a presidential election.What did West Virginia tell the nation in the 60s? We told them, we werent ignorant, we werent religious bigots, we made John Kennedy president of the United States, didnt we? Casey said to strong applause.He showed particular contempt for the Republican campaign in West Virginia.The Republican McCain group has one paid worker in West Virginia. And do you know why they got one paid worker? Because theyve decided that West Virginians are too ignorant, are too backwards to vote for a black man, Casey said, insisting that West Virginians historically vote on a candidate, not on a racial bias.He, along with several other state candidates, shared their pleasure being on the same ticket as Obama.Both Manchin and Rockefeller spoke of their personal relationship with Obama.Ive talked to Barack Obama, and Ive met with Barack, and Ive had dinner with Barack, and Ive never met a person at that level thats willing to form a partnership, Manchin said.I can never remember, whether on television or in person, him losing his temper, Rockefeller said of Obama.The candidates stressed the necessity of the next 48 hours of the campaign, urging all Democrats in the state to make sure to do all they could to get family and friends out to the polls on Election Day.Rockefeller said that West Virginia had notorious problems with poor voter turnout in past elections, with state residents blaming the weather or other issues for not going to the polls.The weather is nice on Tuesday, Rockefeller said. No matter what.