A longtime House Democrat in electoral jeopardy this fall says he supported former President George W. Bush more than President Obama.
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), first elected in 1976, is a top target of Republicans in a state where Obama has long been deeply unpopular. He is facing a state senator, Evan Jenkins, who switched to the GOP to challenge him, and the House Democratic campaign committee recently added him to its “Frontline” list of members that need the most help saving their seat in November.
“There’s no question my critics try to blame Obama-Rahall for everything,” Rahall told The Hill. “I mean, the snow blitz that’s coming tonight is probably Obama-Rahall’s fault. And they won’t have that to do two years from now, so it’s obvious they’re leaving no stone unturned to defeat me this time. Because it’s the last time they’ll have Obama around! It’s that simple.”
Obama’s national approval rating fell to the lowest of his presidency, 41 percent, in an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday. In West Virginia, however, it is much lower. A Gallup study released in January found that during 2013, an average of just 25 percent of West Virginians approved of the president’s performance.
Rahall acknowledged that Obama was deeply unpopular in his district, and he quickly ticked off a half dozen policies where the two have disagreed: coal, trade, immigration, abortion, gun control and the conduct of Attorney General Eric Holder, who Rahall voted to hold in contempt. “That’s just off the top of my head,” he said.
“I will support him when he’s good for West Virginia, and I will oppose him when he’s bad for West Virginia,” Rahall said.
Asked if Obama had been good for West Virginia overall, he replied, “Probably not.”
“I probably have supported George Bush more than I have Barack Obama,” Rahall said. “Am I going to switch parties because of that? No. I’m a Democrat, born a Democrat, am a Democrat and will die a Democrat.”
Rahall spoke a day after Democrats lost a hard-fought special election race in Florida that centered on the president’s policies and the healthcare law.
Wow. Talk about distancing yourself! It’s bad enough in so-called “swing states” like North Carolina, where Senator Hagan (D) deliberately avoids President Obama when he visits the state, but to admit you “probably” supported President Bush more than the current President when you know the party faithful worship the ground Obama walks on and believes President Bush should be tried for war crimes is a sight to behold.
Keep the comments coming, Rep. Rahall! This Congressional race is now on my radar, and I’m stocking up on popcorn as we speak.
(Hat tip: Memeorandum)
UPDATE 3/14/2014 (Phineas): From David Freddoso’s Conservative Intelligence Briefing, a Republican-commissioned poll shows Rahall’s likely opponent, State Senator Evan Jenkins, ahead by 14 points. Even accounting for partisan bias, Rahall’s congressional career looks like toast. Freddoso offers a possible reason:
In Rahall’s particular case, his vote for the Progressive Caucus budget (which contained a carbon tax) will probably be his undoing. There’s just no way out of that one when you represent coal country.
Voting against your constituents’ interests? Huh. Funny how that works out.