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Republican seeking Byrd’s seat irks family

- Associated Press - Sunday, September 5, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. | The family of the late Robert C. Byrd blasted the Republican nominee for his U.S. Senate seat Sunday after he used an image from Mr. Byrd's memorial service in a TV ad attacking the Democratic nominee.

The ad by Republican John Raese's campaign links President Obama to Gov. Joe Manchin III by displaying an image of the two Democrats at the state Capitol ceremony marking the June 28 death of the longtime Democratic senator.

Mr. Raese and Mr. Manchin are running in a special election for the remainder of Byrd's term, which expires in January 2013. Byrd was history's longest-serving member of Congress when he died at 92.

Mr. Raese's campaign manager, Jim Dornan, defended the use of the image.

"That's a stock photo. We had no idea it was from the memorial service," he said.

But Byrd's family called for the campaign to withdraw the ad.

"This is a tasteless and insensitive act by Mr. Raese," said a statement by the Byrd family. "His act is insulting to the memory of Robert Byrd and should have no place in a West Virginia political campaign."

One of Byrd's two daughters, Marjorie Byrd Moore of Virginia, e-mailed the statement to the Associated Press.

She later said that Mr. Raese had attacked her father when he unsuccessfully challenged Byrd's 2006 bid for a record ninth Senate term. Among other things, she said, Mr. Raese had made an issue of Byrd's age.

Mrs. Moore said Mr. Manchin contacted her about the ad.

Manchin campaign spokeswoman Sara Payne Scarbro said Sunday that the memorial was meant as a bipartisan, nonpolitical tribute.

"To use that photo just truly shows the character of Mr. Raese," Mrs. Scarbro said. "It shows what we can expect from Mr. Raese, and that is negative ads and negative campaigning."

Mr. Dornan of the Raese campaign dismissed the flap as an attempt to distract from the ad's overall message: that Mr. Manchin would support Obama administration policies if elected, while Mr. Raese would not.

Mr. Obama lost West Virginia's electoral votes in 2008 and is not popular in the state.

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