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WEST VIRGINIA

Republicans fire “hicky” ad producer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. | A Republican production firm was behind a casting call that sought actors who looked like hicks to portray West Virginians in a U.S. Senate race ad, an e-mail released Thursday shows.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee said it has fired Jamestown Associates and apologized for earlier blaming an outside casting firm for the flap.

The ad, filmed in Philadelphia, showed men in flannel shirts and baseball caps worrying that if Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin III was elected to the Senate he would side with President Obama.

“We are going for a ‘Hicky’ Blue Collar look,” the casting call said.

Mr. Manchin’s campaign and Democrats quickly seized on that language, and the filming location, to make the ad an issue. The NRSC pulled the ad earlier than scheduled last week while originally blaming the outside firm, Kathy Wickline Casting, for the casting call.

YOUTH VOTE

Obama courts young in TV town hall

President Obama on Thursday defended his agenda under stern questioning from young adults at a town hall, including one man who bluntly asked him: “Why should we still support you?”

The president, seeking to recapture the energy of his 2008 campaign, is campaigning to keep his Democratic allies in Congress in power, but he found himself challenged repeatedly on his record.

One man questioned the effectiveness of Mr. Obama’s $814 billion economic stimulus plan and worried about taxes going up. Mr. Obama responded that the stimulus is working — “3 million folks are working now that would not otherwise be working” — and said most people have gotten a tax cut on his watch.

A woman who identified herself as a Republican questioned why the president hadn’t ushered in the bipartisanship that he had promised. Mr. Obama said he hoped he would get more cooperation from Republicans after the Nov. 2 elections, but that many in the GOP have shown no such interest so far.

RHODE ISLAND

Chafee’s campaign manager resigns

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