According to Foreign Policy:
Take, for example, the statement e-mailed to The Cable by the campaign of West Virginian Democratic Senate candidate Joe Manchin, who is leading Republican John Raese by only 1.5 points, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls.
“Joe Manchin’s governing philosophy on defense policy will be to listen to our commanders and generals on the ground, and before he can cast a vote for or against START II, he will need to assess their recommendations,” said his spokesperson Lara Ramsburg.
The Cable tried to follow up and ask the Manchin campaign who, exactly, the “commanders on the ground” are that Manchin would consult on New START. The leaders of the Pentagon have all come out in support of the treaty, so is Manchin waiting for Gen. David Petraeus to weigh in? A military official who inspects missile silos in Russia? We received no follow-up response.
Regardless, the administration can’t safely count Manchin as a “yes” vote on the treaty based on that statement.
Raese’s campaign spokesman Kevin Mclaughlin was more direct. “John Raese opposes the New START treaty,” he said. Clear enough. If he wins, that’s one previously safe “yes” vote on the treaty that goes out the window.
The problem is almost everyone has commented on START, so who is Manchin waiting to hear from on this issue? As usual, Raese is direct and perhaps too blunt (which will likely wear), but voters know where he stands.