Amid tight Nevada Senate race, Republican Sharron Angle says she didn’t say what she said
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle is distancing herself from an unusual foe — her own words.
In recent weeks, Angle repeatedly has claimed that she never vowed to end Social Security or federal benefits for veterans. Democrats have widely circulated recordings of her making those very points in early campaign stops.
The shift illuminates Angle’s ongoing evolution from a hard-right state legislator to a slightly mellower national candidate amid attacks from Democrats and the occasional Republican leader.
Her critics have admonished her for, among other things, deeming a BP fund of oil spill victims a “slush fund;” suggesting tea party followers will resort to “Second Amendment remedies” if Washington is not reformed; concluding that unemployment benefits have “spoiled our citizenry;” and blasting Democrats for pushing public benefits to “make government our God.”
Her rival, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has pinned his re-election hopes on Angle’s pronouncements, giving them center stage in a tsunami of TV spots that brand Angle as “too extreme.”
It is not clear what political philosophies Angle would take to the U.S. Senate. She has granted only a handful of interviews to mainstream publications since her upset victory in the June Republican primary, and often dodges reporters at public events.
Angle embraces tea party support, calls herself a conservative Republican and insists her views are mainstream.
Most recently, Angle assured her base that she never wanted to dismantle Social Security during an interview with a conservative radio host in front of hundreds of supporters.
“That’s all I said, that we can’t allow our government to steal from us any longer,” she said. “I used the word ‘privatized’ because I thought it only happened in the private sector.”
In previous interviews, Angle initially called for the end of Social Security, and then later embraced privatization.
“I thought we would have to go just to the private sector for a template on how this is supposed to be done,” Angle told supporters in August. “However, I’ve since been studying, and Chile has done this.”
She also denied that she had called for the end of the federal Veterans Administration.
“What I said was we could do better,” she said.
When a reporter asked Angle in May whether the VA should cover her father’s $800 monthly prescription bill, she said, “No, not if you’re working toward a privatized system.”
In another change, Angle said of unemployment, “We pay into it, so in some respects, it is an insurance policy that we bought into with our paychecks.”
Previously, she described it as a “system of entitlement (that) has caused us to have a spoilage with our ability to go out and get a job.”
Reid has criticized Angle’s original views on Social Security, the VA and unemployment benefits in a flood of attack ads.
“Obviously these positions are far too extreme to be accepted by Nevada voters, so she’s willing to do or say anything to hide her dangerous agenda including bald-faced lies she knows are falsifiable,” Reid spokesman Kelly Steele said. “That’s pathological.”
The nail-biting Senate race is this year’s marquee political contest, with Republicans hungry to defeat the high-profile Reid and portray the midterm election as a referendum on President Barack Obama’s sweeping social and economic agenda.
Angle’s supporters seem unaware or unfazed by her policy revisions.
“She has addressed every single issue head on,” said Republican Kathy Nolan, 50, of Las Vegas.
Las Vegas Republican Greg Abernathy, 61, declared Angle “fantastic” and said he would vote for anyone but Reid.
Angle has not toned down all of her conservative positions.
She remains unabashedly opposed to abortion, most government regulations and tax increases.
At a tea party rally, she again blasted the U.S. Supreme Court for protecting abortion.
“We can choose to abstain, we can choose to use birth control,” she said.
Angle also briefly addressed a recent dustup involving her longtime pastor, who told reporters that Reid, as a Mormon, is a member of a cult.
Angle said she hadn’t attended the church in six years and dismissed Pastor John Reed’s comments as inappropriate cheerleading.
“I know people think they are helping, but they are really not,” she said.
Reed told The Associated Press last week that Angle had attended his Reno church for more than a decade. Angle used to sing in a contemporary Christian band at Reed’s Sonrise Church and taught Sunday school, but left a few months ago.
Asked whether God or public opinion shaped her work, Angle said, “First of all, you look for truth and that is a Biblical principle: Truth shall set us free,” she said. “And then often I ask my constituents, ‘What do you think?'”
Source: AP News
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