Supporters of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) are reportedly thrilled about the prospect of him running against former state legislator Sharron Angle, since they see her as a weak Tea Party candidate with a history of extremist views that will make it easy to focus the campaign on her record.
The strategy, according to Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent, will be to “use her own words to paint her as, well, a complete whackjob.”
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann has already picked up on the emerging anti-Angle narrative. “Conventional wisdom was that Sue Lowden’s come-from-ahead defeat to Tea Partier Sharron Angle would hurt Senator Harry Reid,” he noted on Wednesday. “Turns out Ms. Lowden was the sensible one.”
“Ms. Angle’s resume is startling — or, if you prefer, cartoon-like,” Olbermann continued. “She told Liberty Watch magazine that she’s opposed to legalizing alcohol. (Las Vegas!) Eleven years ago, she proposed a bill requiring doctors to tell women that research suggested abortions might increase their risk of breast cancer, even though, you know, it doesn’t.”
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank even suggested on Thursday that Angle’s victory “would explain the uncharacteristic smile on Reid’s face as he opened Wednesday morning’s Senate session. Instead of his usual stemwinder denouncing the obstructionist minority, he engaged his Republican counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a celebration of the national pastime.”
According to the Post’s Dave Weigel, however, Angle backers like Club for Growth spokesman Mike Connolly, are describing their reaction to the wave of attacks on their candidate as “one big yawn.”
“We know Sharron Angle pretty well,” Connolly told Weigel. “A lot of folks around here have worked with her. We’ve endorsed her in the past. This tactic is neither new nor surprising.”
Even if the tactic doesn’t surprise Angle’s backers, though, it could still prove damaging when played out before a national audience.
“She endorsed a plan for a prison drug treatment program that would be like sweat lodges, saunas with massage,” Olbermann noted. “It would cost $15,000 per prisoner. It was developed in part by the Church of Scientology. … Two weeks ago — after BP! — she said she favors more deregulation of the oil industry. Oh, and Ms. Angle also voted against fluoridizing the water, because she thinks the fluoride might be poison.”
Connolly acknowledged to Weigel that he hadn’t previously known of Angle’s opposition to fluoridation but insisted that “this is what their campaign is going to be — digging around in things she’s said and taking them out of context. And the polls haven’t moved for Harry Reid. He’s been a dead man walking, politically, for months.”
Sal Russo of the Tea Party Express and other Republicans also described the attacks on Angle as “stale stuff” and suggested that Angle should have no problems as long as she can avoid future gaffes.
It’s true that Angle’s support for the sauna idea might fairly be described as old news, since it goes back to 2003, but her Scientology connections recently came under renewed scrutiny when the Las Vegas Sun reported that Angle’s website had “scrubbed” any mention of her having worked with actresses Kelly Preston and Jenna Elfman to promote legislation prohibiting schools from requiring students to take psychiatric drugs, such as anti-depressants. Both women are prominent Scientologists, and opposition to psychiatric drugs is a Scientological position.
This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast June 9, 2010.