Reid's Tea Party-Backed Rival Preps For TV Interview

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Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle i

Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who was endorsed by the Tea Party Express, will face U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the general election. Angle has generally avoided the mainstream media, but on Tuesday she will answer questions from a veteran Nevada political journalist. Ethan Miller/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle

Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who was endorsed by the Tea Party Express, will face U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the general election. Angle has generally avoided the mainstream media, but on Tuesday she will answer questions from a veteran Nevada political journalist.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

There's a sentence that crops up in nearly every article about Nevada's Republican senate nominee: Sharron Angle declined to be interviewed for this story.

The Tea Party favorite is challenging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. So far, she has generally avoided the mainstream media, mostly giving interviews on Fox News and conservative talk radio. But on Tuesday, she will answer questions from veteran Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston on his TV program Face to Face.

There is much curiosity about Angle despite her long political track record in Nevada. She has organized grass-roots campaigns on such issues as home schooling and cutting property taxes, and served four terms as a member of the state Assembly representing the Reno area.

"She was just a fairly marginal legislator, who didn't get much done," Ralston says.

He says she voted "no" so often that "the joke in a 42-member Assembly where the votes were unanimous or nearly unanimous is that there were several 41-to-Angle votes."

Devoted Conservative Base

As Angle has avoided the mainstream media, reporters have picked over her earlier statements, especially on conservative radio programs. During a call into one of them, she argued that the purpose of the Second Amendment right to bear arms is to enable citizens to protect themselves from the government.

"If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies," Angle said. "They're saying, 'My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around?' "

That comment on "Second Amendment remedies" led the Las Vegas Sun to editorialize that Angle "has no business being in the U.S. Senate."

But her conservative base is devoted. She's a small-government, tax-cutting die-hard. She has talked about eliminating the Departments of Energy and Education and the Environmental Protection Agency. And, when she was part of a candidate debate on Ralston's show before the primary, she said Social Security and Medicare should be phased out.

"We need to phase Medicare and Social Security out in favor of something privatized," she said.

That philosophy earned Angle crucial support form the anti-tax Club for Growth and the Tea Party Express. But since she won the primary, she sounds a bit different. On Fox and Friends, she called the idea that she wanted to get rid of Social Security "nonsense."

"What we need to do is personalize Social Security and Medicare so the government can no longer raid it," she said.

Moderating Her Stance

Some Nevadans see the influence of Washington in Angle's more moderate rhetoric. She did spend the week after the primary on Capitol Hill.

"She made a very good impression when she's met a number of the Republican senators for the first time," said Brian Walsh, communications director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "She talked about what her campaign message is going to be, which is focusing on Harry Reid's failed record as a leader for 27 years."

Reid has become increasingly unpopular as Nevada's economy has tanked and unemployment there has reached 14 percent. But since the primary, he has wasted no time in portraying Angle as "wacky."

Ralston says Reid is trying to make Angle so unacceptable "that he can either turn some people to vote for him or vote for this anomalous choice we have on the ballot here in Nevada called 'none of the above.' "

Nevadans have the option of checking the box for "none of these candidates." Ralston says he thinks that in this election, that choice could get a record high vote.

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