Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) - Nevada Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle just might be the Tea Party's biggest gamble yet. A staunch conservative with a history of making bold and sometimes controversial comments, Angle insists she's been taken out of context in her campaign to oust Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and told CNN in a rare interview, "I'll be a mainstream Senator."
A grandmother of 10 children who secured the backing of Tea Party leaders on her way to winning the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, Angle has been both praised and criticized for her views.
In past remarks during the campaign, Angle has said Social Security and Medicare should be phased out. She's also advocated the elimination of the Departments of Education and Energy, the EPA, and the IRS.
Angle established herself as an ardent conservative during her six-year tenure in the Nevada State Assembly. "Sharron Angle was the Tea Party before the Tea Party existed," Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston said of the Republican, adding she was a "far right" candidate.
While Angle's controversial stances have bolstered her standing with the Tea Party, they have provided fodder for Democrats, who perceive the 60-year-old Tea Party candidate a threat to one of Washington's most prominent Democrats. In response, Senator Reid has called his opponent "too extreme" in TV ads airing across the state, and even President Obama weighed in at a July event for Reid, saying, "[Angle] favors an approach that's even more extreme than the Republicans we've got in Washington. That's saying something."
When CNN caught up with Angle at one of her Las Vegas campaign stops, she complained some of her more controversial statements had been taken out of context. "As you speak, as we're conversationally speaking, sometimes when you pick out words, they're not the best words you could have used," she told CNN in a rare one-on-one interview. "When taken out of context, you can make anybody look like they don't know what they're talking about," she elaborated.
"It's a little hard to take out of context when they say they want to phase out Social Security," Reid responded to CNN. "Her words are what she is. My words are what I am. So I don't think you can run from what you say and what you do."
Angle has also made some contentious comments on friendly conservative talk radio programs, which have bolstered her detractors' views that she is an extremist.
In a January appearance on the Reno-based Bill Manders Show, Angle implied the purpose of the Second Amendment right to bear arms might be to keep the federal government in check. "I'm hoping that we're not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope that the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems," she told the radio host, generating a slew of questions about her intent.
When CNN asked about Angle's ominous-sounding warning, she laughed off the notion she was promoting an armed revolution. "Those are not the issues people are concerned about. They're concerned about our economy, our homes, our jobs. That's what people are concerned about," she said, not offering an explanation of her remarks.
CNN also asked Angle about her affirmation of the same conservative host's observation that there are "home-born, homegrown" enemies who are operating in Congress. "The larger focus of that conversation is what has happened domestically here and our country for the last 18 months," Angle said, pointing out that no names were mentioned during the conversation, and again avoiding the intent of her statement.
It's easy to see how Angle's staunch views appeal to the Tea Party, but even some of her fellow Nevada Republicans are wary that she is too conservative. In an interview with CNN affiliate KLAS, Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, who is a Republican from Angle's hometown, called Angle "an ultra-right winger" who he will not support in November. Another prominent Nevada Republican, former Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich described Angle as "rigid" in her beliefs in an interview to the Las Vegas Review Journal. "She's a very difficult person. She's very positive in her own way, but when you're elected you have to work for everybody," Vucanovich told the newspaper.
But it's not just politicians who are concerned. In a poll released by the Las Vegas Review Journal on August 27th, a whopping 71% of Nevada Republicans admit they would prefer to see a different Republican candidate other than Sharron Angle take on Reid. Of those Republicans who voted for Angle in the primary election, 66% now say they'd like another nominee.
Reid fares better with his own party, but is still far from a perfect candidate in the eyes of Nevada voters, many of whom see the high-profile Democrat as a Washington, DC insider who brokered deals infamously known as the "Cornhusker Kickback" and "The Louisiana Purchase" to pass health care reform. "Harry Reid is the most negatively viewed person in this state and there is a hardened opposition to him. I think Sharron Angle could be arrested for a felony tomorrow and still get percent 40 percent of the vote," Ralston told CNN.
That explains why, despite Angle's controversial candidacy, polls show Nevada voters evenly split between the "extremist" challenger and the "establishment" senator. The high-profile race is considered a statistical dead heat where, even in the gambling capital of the world, there is no odds-on favorite, making it a bellwether of just how influential the Tea Party might be in future elections.
Anyone would be better than commie red hippy Harry Reid.
A mainstream nut case? A mainstream hatemonger? A Mainstream bigot? What exactly is mainstream about this extreme right-wing lunatic?
Anyone would be better than Harry Reid. Ried is a cradle to grave socialist like Obummie. Time to get off your butt and do some work instead of standing around with your hands out America!!!
Angle would be a mainstream senator, much like Mussolini was a mainstream dictator.
I am surprised that she came out with any statement unless she is protected by Fox Noise! She actually had a statement? If she is a mainstream candidate, God help our country. She is the ultimate example of how the repub party has been hijacked by the right wingnut, neo-cons that started with W. I pray that she does not win. I know that anyone other than a repub does not pray, but there are some of us pagans out here that do.
This woman is insane and not many Repubs is smart enough to recognize that. Those same Repubs thinks Palin is smart and brilliant too. HA! HA! HA!
Simply put, if the Tea Party loves this woman, she is not right for America. The Tea Party has shown its true colors recently, being front and center at the Glenn Beck fiasco. America THINKS it has a problem, but if these extreme people get control of America, we will be in real trouble. I think that the Republicans should put forth their agenda for if they win. Do they have any ideas that will move us forward? Do they have any ideas that are better than the ones President Obama has put forth? Any real ideas at all? Just remember, GOP, if you succeed in winning all those seats your drooling over, YOU WILL ACTUALLY HAVE TO DO SOMETHING TO HELP.
Yeah, most mainstream Senators don't want to shut down Government or force people to start accepting chickens for payment. Sorry Sharron, you just don't pass the smell test on this one.
I can't believe anyone would vote for her. Her views to dismantle the government would leave us unviable as a country. Her "second amendment remedy" statement is dispicable from anyone but doubly so for someone holding themselves up to be a leader. Shameful!
Nevada, this is your wake up call! Angle cannot have mainstream positions and want to repeal social security, medicare, the department of education, unemployment insurance, and government regulations to dumkp nuclear waste.
congratulations, cnn! You've taken up the George Soros banner like good little soldiers and vowed to take the "Tea Party" movement down. Not that you're just getting started. But it's interesting to watch how you subtlly and deceivingly work the negatives into your "reporting." I wish the news director would put every reporter on a Greyhound bus and force them to go across the country and meet the people. They might actually meet decent patriotic Americans who don't fit your template. Shame on you for not living up to the standards of good journalism....like asking hard, probing questions (no matter how much you don't want to hear the answer)...how about some honest investigative reporting. While you're trying to take down conservatives...this conservative would like some followup on the terrorist who killed 13 soldiers, etc. etc.
Angle is a radical time bomb waiting to explode and disintegrate.
Heaven help us if Nevada is irresponsible enough to put this woman in office.
The tea party really know how to pick them, doesn't it.
I feel bad for her grandkids,having to carry the stupid gene.
POLITICAL SUICIDE if you vote for any talipublican and PRAY because your tomorrow is not guaranteed
Sharon Angle is certainly a better choice than Reid. Reid is pathetic. He is a Partisan fool. Completely disconnected from the American people. He is Nancy Pelosi with pants. I hope Angel pulls it out. All the Government run news agencies have steadily attacked her. As a senator she won't be voting for job killing, deficit spending policies that Harry Reid endorsed.
this is one crazy lady, if this is what america wants to follow ........
Her claim that she will be a "mainstream senator" is out line with her past comments, interviews and public stance. She is a right wing extremist and fundamentalist. She is not a Republican – I am a Republican (independent) and she does not speak for me. Her ideas are unworkable and will undermine the strength of this country. She and others of her ilk from the "tea bag express" have no working knowledge of national governance and pose a significant threat to the integrity of the Republican party... and this country. They may win many elections and even tip the balance in congress – but the pendulum will swing back so fast and hard, it will take a long time for true conservatives to recover.
As a Texan, I am not faced with having these political insurgents as a choice. I would hate to have to vote for a democrat – but would if backed into a corner like some folks will be across the country this coming fall election.
Why does she lie so much. How can anyone with half a brain vote for this woman. I can only expect so much of America though, we voted in GWB twice.
I hate "I told you so", so I will just wish everyone a happy Labor Day.
I wonder if Sharon Angle feels like her husband's government pension should be phased out, too. Considering she doesn't have a job right now, I doubt it. Can anyone spell hypocricy?
And if mainstream means a dislike of average working class Americans, then I guess she's mainstream. To me she's extreme right wing mainstream, which appears to have taken over the GOP, but nobody asked me.
Mainstream if you want to live in a 3rd World Dictatorship. She's a danger to Democracy and the citizens of America.
Mainstream? I think not! Sharron Angle is so ultra right-wing conservative that she makes Sarah Palin look like a liberal! If she beats Harry Reid, I feel very sorry for the gaming industry in Nevada. This nut job will probably try to close the casinos down!
Now 66% of GOP wish they nominated someone else? Why didn't the dummies read about Sharron No-No (she got that nickname by voting no on just about all bills while in the state legislature). The Tea Party trashed Sue Lowden, former head of the NV GOP, to get Sharron No-No nominated. Sue Lowden would be ahead of Reid by about 10-20 points. Instead I have a choice of voting for someone I can't stand (Reid) or Sharron No-No, who's policies are so WAY WAY out there it is like she is from another galaxy. As a long time NV GOP member I am fully aware of Sharron Angle's wildly extreme views. I supported Dean Heller when she tried to get the GOP nomination for the House. This senate election looms as a choice of did you want to be boiled in oil or hung?
Then why vote for her _
Oh. . .c'mon! As a Senator, Sharron cannot pass bills, or make changes, by herself. NV is dying on the vine – the highest unemployment and foreclosure rates in the country. The policies of the present administration, and Congress, are only serving to make things worse in this state. A change is needed. . . .badly. Why is it that Harry Reid cannot campaign on how he is going to change from the pattern he has followed for all the years he has been in office? Could it be because he has a record that he can't win with. . .and he has no intentions of changing his pattern of conduct. . . so, instead, he chooses to try to scare the voters by "dissing" his opponent for things that, while they may be her personal opinions, are nothing that she can change as a Senator? If the changes with Sharron speaks of are the will of the majority, then those changes will happen. She is certainly not the only one who speaks of them. A junior Senator cannot, alone,make these changes happen. What she can do is be part of the majority which makes the changes to bring a positive business climate resulting in new private-sector jobs into the state. Harry Reid has proven his inability to do so. Please, focus on the facts, rather than the Reid-rhetoric.
Lady, you and "mainstream", are pretty F-ing far away from each other. The truth is you talk crazy because you really are, but the moment you become a Senator, you'll fall in line with your party of NO, and work for big business only.
Now to the rest of you morons out there voting for "Tea Party" candidates,
...DO YOU REALLY THINK A JUNIOR SENATOR OR HOUSE MEMBER CAN DO ANYTHING WITHOUT THE PARTY'S APPROVAL???
This isn't Mr. Smith goes to Washington!!!!
Wake up, the only difference is whether you want a party that will destroy you tomorrow *AKA Republicans) or a party that may destroy you in 25-50 years (current Democrats)...
...for myself, I'd like a little more time, before the Jesus loving people who don't act like Jesus at all slash my throat in the name of God or Big Business, or both...