A Senate race in West Virginia illustrates the danger of being associated with Barack Obama
Elkins, W. Va. — At the Forest Festival parade, thousands of folding and lawn chairs are lined up on the sidewalks of the main thoroughfare, a street with a courthouse and fast-food chains, a Baptist church and a liquor store, all nestled beneath rolling hills cluttered with trees that are ripening into yellow and orange. The parade features high-school marching bands, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and local girls crowned Forest Festival royalty, who wear velvet dresses and wave to the crowd. When folks see someone they know in the parade, they holler at him.
Election Day being only about a month away, the parade also includes a stream of West Virginia politicians, smiling and glad-handing prospective voters. One of the politicians is Democratic governor Joe Manchin, who’s running to complete the late senator Robert Byrd’s term. Manchin, tall and broad-shouldered, genial and bluff-mannered, and clad in an orange campaign polo and khakis, works the crowd. He darts from side to side, taking pictures, waving, doing a little back step and turning around when he senses that he passed someone by. There are plenty who want a photo, and Manchin stops and poses with all of them.