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Posted at 12:42 PM ET, 10/18/2012

Does Rand Paul anti-Manchin ad blitz have connection to football rivalry?

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is attacking Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) in new ads. (MIKE SEGAR - REUTERS)
In what’s looking like a border-state war, those Kentucky senators (both Republicans) really have it out for West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin. And their reasons come from deep and tribal places: politics and football.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) recently began running pretty negative ads on a few of his Democratic colleagues, including Manchin, who opposed his effort to cut off aid to Pakistan, Egypt and Libya. The ads accuse the Dems of siding with jihadists and the like.

Paul already had a homestate-pride reason to relish attacking the West Virginian. See, Manchin royally ticked off Paul’s fellow Kentucky Republican, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, over the Big 12 conference expansion last year.

Manchin, a former football player for his beloved West Virginia University Mountaineers, wanted to see his alma mater admitted to the prestigious conference, while McConnell was lobbying for his University of Louisville. The spat got ugly, with a tense exchange on the Senate floor and frosty fallout. McConnell still harbors a grudge, we hear — the fact that West Virginia ultimately got the slot can’t help.

And since the Senate leader and the maverick Paul are forging a new “odd-couple” friendship, now they’ve got something more to bond over.

By  |  12:42 PM ET, 10/18/2012

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