Obama’s week: Muddles gay marriage, nearly loses in W.Va. to inmate

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Democrats pointed out that Mr. Obama always has been somewhat unpopular in West Virginia, losing the 2008 primary there handily to then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But Republican National Committee research director Joe Pounder was only too happy to ask, “Just how unpopular does someone have to be for this to happen?”

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Sen. Joe Manchin III, both Democrats, have not revealed whether they will support the president’s re-election bid. In the coal-rich state, the Environmental Protection Agency has antagonized the industry and its supporters, many of whom perceive the administration’s policies as anti-coal.

North Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary handed Mr. Obama another rebuke. Even though the president faced no opposition and had narrowly carried the state in the 2008 general election, 20.8 percent of the state’s Democratic voters cast ballots for the “no preference” entry.

The Obama campaign hopes to regain its message-control footing Thursday when Mr. Obama leaves Washington for a two-day campaign swing to Seattle, Los Angeles and Reno, Nev.

Mr. Manley, of Quinn Gillespie Associates, said none of the events of the past few days “fazes” him.

“The corollary is that you had Mitt Romney out there claiming credit for saving the auto industry, which a lot of folks seized on as another instance of him trying to have it both ways,” Mr. Manley said. “The fact is, you’ve got to beat somebody with someone, and the Republicans don’t have anyone. If you look at the individual battleground states, not only is the economy doing better in many of them, but the president’s poll numbers are improving in them.”

Democratic strategist Karl Frisch said the news in recent days won’t hurt Mr. Obama’s re-election effort.

“I think there’s a healthy portion of the country that would like to see him finish evolving on marriage equality,” Mr. Frisch said. “At the end of the day, I don’t think they were necessarily off message.”

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