The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

May 10, 2012

Snuffer attempting to link Rahall to Obama

BECKLEY — In his second effort to grab the brass ring in the 3rd congressional district, Republican nominee Rick Snuffer is making no secret of his battle plan — link Rep. Nick Rahall to President Obama.

Snuffer handily secured the GOP nomination Tuesday, besting Lee Bias and Bill Lester, and immediately launched into criticism of Rahall, a Democratic congressman first elected in 1976.

“It’s time for Nick Rahall to come home,” the Beckley home builder said.

“After 36 years in Washington, it has become increasingly clear that Congressman Rahall has become disconnected from the problems facing middle-class southern West Virginians and is more loyal to President Obama than his own constituents.”

Only a week ago, Snuffer pointed out, Rahall endorsed Obama’s re-election, “despite acknowledging his administration is waging a ‘war on coal’ that’s destroying West Virginia jobs.”

In a telephone interview, Rahall enjoyed a hearty laugh at Snuffer’s campaign strategy, calling it “a rehash of the same old boring phrases that are already running like a broken record, putting me to sleep. Same old boring repeats. Is that anything new?”

“I don’t agree with any president of the United States I’ve worked with since I’ve been here 100 percent of the time, and my record shows that,” Rahall said.

“The people know that. Smart people who are able to discern voting records know that I disagree with this president. I’ve disagreed with Democratic presidents like Bill Clinton in the past on gun control, on abortion, on gay marriage and trade deals that ship our jobs overseas.”

At the same time, Rahall pointed out he also has sided with Republican chief executives such as George H.W. Bush on the first Gulf War, but cast “one of the proudest votes” in his career against the second Gulf War.

While the second Bush was in office, Rahall noted, he rode with him on Air Force One and backed his conservative positions on gun ownership, abortion and stem cell research.

“Those who can read the record and read the facts will know that I vote according to the best interests and values of the people that sent me to Congress and I’ve done that for 36 years,” he said.

Obama poses some awkwardness for Democratic leaders in the state, where his approval rate has dipped below 30 percent.

While the state party has heartily endorsed a second term, such leaders as Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Sen. Joe Manchin are trying to steer clear of him, avoiding direct answers when prodded by the media as to whether they intend to vote for him.

In Tuesday’s primary, a Texas inmate, Keith Judd, pulled 41 percent of the vote in the Democratic race for president, and in socially conservative West Virginia, the incumbent president likely didn’t help his status by endorsing same-sex marriages.

Asked about this latest development, Rahall said he opposes same-sex marriages “and my record will back that up.”

Snuffer faulted Rahall for voting to enact ObamaCare, with its cuts in Medicare, defending the Environmental Protection Agency and supporting the Wall Street bailouts.

“This cannot stand any longer,” the former pastor said.

“Southern West Virginia needs a true representative, not a yes-man to a president who does not have our best interests at heart.”

Rahall ran unopposed in the primary and hasn’t lost a re-election effort since he initially won the office 36 years ago.

While Obama might be difficult for some Democrats, Rahall turned the tables on Snuffer, suggesting that presumed nominee Mitt Romney could be hard for him to endorse, pointing to a news article depicting the former Massachusetts with an anti-coal agenda in 2003, and five years later “trying to ‘out-environmental’ (Arizona Sen. and 2008 presidential nominee) John McCain.”

“Which Mitt Romney is my opponent going to support this fall?” asked.

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