GOP already hitting Manchin as pawn of Senate Democrats

The National Republican Senatorial Committee took its first shot at a Senate Democrat up for election in 2012 on Tuesday, hitting Sen.-elect Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) amid rumors that the GOP is working to convince him to switch parties.  

Manchin, who defeated Republican John Raese last week after a closer-than-expected campaign that saw the conservative Democrat running away from President Obama, is tamping down speculation that he could leave the Democratic Party after FoxNews reported Monday that the GOP is making overtures.   

Manchin will have to run for a full six-year term in 2012, when he may very well be a top GOP target once again.     

In a release Tuesday, the NRSC accused Manchin of "doubling down on his commitment to anti-coal U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who spearheaded the failed $787 billion stimulus debacle and strongly supports a job-killing cap-and-trade energy tax."

Cap-and-trade emerged as a major issue during Manchin's campaign against Raese. The Republican said Manchin would cave to cap-and-trade demands from Reid and the Democratic leadership once in the Senate. But Manchin made his opposition to the bill clear, running a campaign ad in which he literally shot a hole through a copy of the bill. 

The worst-case scenario for Manchin two years from now would likely be a challenge from Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), but the congresswoman has yet to show any interest in running in 2012.