Did you think that the campaign was over?  Silly voters!  Just a far after rumors began floating that the GOP would attempt to woo newly-elected Senator Joe Manchin to switch parties, a suggestion that didn’t exactly get a categorical refusal at first, the NRSC has decided to go on the attack immediately.  They launched a rhetorical blast intended to paint the West Virginian as an acolyte of the anti-coal Harry Reid:

Despite his repeated campaign rhetoric of putting West Virginia ahead of his party leaders’ narrow partisan agenda in Washington, liberal Governor Joe Manchin (D-WV) is already signaling that he plans to side with his anti-coal, pro-stimulus Democrat party bosses over the best interests of his constituents.

As Roll Call noted, Manchin “campaigned on his opposition to President Barack Obama’s signature legislative policies and a pledge to challenge the liberal Democratic agenda and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)” while pursuing his personal ambitions.

But today, amid rumors that the Democrats’ reckless spending, tax hikes and job-killing anti-coal policies might drive him to break with his party, Manchin promised to be a “lifelong Democrat” in Washington, 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.

Notably, Manchin disregarded Reid’s anti-coal rhetoric, including his assertion that “coal makes us sick” and is “ruining our country… ruining our world.” Manchin also accepted $10,000 in campaign cash from Reid’s political action committee during his Senate bid.

“Joe Manchin promised to put his state first while hunting for votes in West Virginia, but just a week after the election, it’s clear that he’ll do the exact opposite in Washington,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Communications Director Brian Walsh.

“After lining his campaign war chest with his party bosses’ cash, Manchin is now doubling down on his commitment to join them in rubberstamping President Obama’s liberal, job-killing agenda in the Senate,” Walsh continued. “We look forward to hearing Joe Manchin explain how backing an anti-coal, pro-stimulus, and pro-ObamaCare liberal like Harry Reid is ‘putting West Virginia first.’”

The “lifelong Democrat” comment came in response to the rumors yesterday as a means to assure the Democrats that spent a lot of money and effort to protect Manchin against John Raese that he wouldn’t use their money and then defect to the GOP.  His own team made such a strong statement necessary after their seeming equivocation yesterday on the subject.  Instead of a simple “we’re not interested” or even “we’ll keep ours a strong and independent voice,” they offered the possibility of a party switch if Democrats failed to change their approach appreciably.

This means little now, of course, since Manchin already won the election and will take his seat at the beginning of the lame-duck session next week.  The NRSC wants to make sure, though, that Manchin knows that his race will present a special target in 2012 as a deeply unpopular Barack Obama campaigns for re-election at the same time.  With that in mind, the NRSC might want to change its approach and tie Manchin to Obama’s threat to bankrupt coal-based electrical producers rather than Reid, who is likely a much less controversial figure in West Virginia.

Either way, it’s an interesting bit of inside baseball.  You know what they say about a party scorned ….