Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia returned to a familiar theme in a new campaign ad. In it, Manchin totes a shotgun out to a field and takes aim at something he says will hurt the people of West Virginia.
The target? A lawsuit filed by the Justice Department and a cadre of Republican Attorneys General from 20 states. Among them are Manchin's opponent, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
The lawsuit seeks to overturn protections in the Affordable Care Act—or Obamacare—for pre-existing conditions. The AGs argue the ACA is unconstitutional after Congress eliminated the individual mandate with the GOP tax bill passed in 2017.
Watch Manchin's ad here:
The incumbent Democrat also posted the new ad to his Twitter account, with the message:
"Patrick Morrisey's lawsuit would take away health care from people with pre-existing conditions. That's just dead wrong, and that ain't gonna happen."
"Pat's lawsuit would take away health care coverage for 800,000 West Virginians with common pre-existing conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and high blood pressure. That's not our West Virginia values."
In 2010—during Manchin's first campaign for Senate—he released a similar ad with a different target. That time the recipient of his shotgun blast was an anti-coal cap-and-trade bill supported by Democrats and then President Barack Obama.
Manchin was Governor when West Virginia Democratic Senator Robert Byrd died. Manchin appointed a successor then ran in a special election and won the seat in 2010. He ran again in 2012, without employing his shotgun.
Manchin's new ad serves a dual purpose, just as it did in 2010. In that earlier election, Manchin wished to show the people of West Virginia he would buck his own party in their interests. Now, in 2018, Manchin addresses the shortcomings of his opponent through blasting the lawsuit he joined.
But the other, more subtle purpose is to illustrate Manchin's commitment to sensible gun ownership and use by his constituents. In other words, Manchin is a supporter of the right to bear arms responsibly. That point is driven home by numerous posts on his Twitter feed.
Back in March, in the wake of hearings after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Manchin said:
"It's not gun control, it's gun sense."
The Senator referred to a bill he co-sponsored a bill in 2013 with Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The legislation would have established a database of those prohibited from owning guns while expanding nationwide background checks.
Manchin hoped to revive the legislation in 2018, but was blocked by the GOP. In June, Manchin told ABC:
"I'm more concerned right now about pre-existing conditions. I'm more concerned about 800,000 West Virginians losing their ability to have insurance or buy insurance because they've been sick. Something's wrong here, we've gotta change that."
Reactions to Manchin's ad on social media however rarely addressed the ad itself as the following messages to Manchin show.
Most of those responding brought up one topic and it was not Obamacare or the 2nd Amendment. Their concern lay with Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court.
Midterm elections are slated for Tuesday, November 6, 2018.