Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) - Elusive Republican Senate Candidate Sharron Angle accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's campaign of running a "fear and smear" campaign in the face of her surging candidacy, in a rare interview Wednesday.
"The message has certainly changed from hope and change to 'fear and smear'," Angle said.
Angle was speaking to a Mormon business group Wednesday but the campaign had not publicized the engagement. After CNN took up position at the event's entrance, the candidate went in another door. Eventually her staff came outside to grant a short interview.
The Republican candidate for Senate disavowed comments from a pastor at the church she belonged to for a decade, who said he believed Mormonism – Sen. Reid's religion – is a cult. She says she told the luncheon crowd, “that I should not be held responsible for other people's comments, that I do not believe that anybody should be persecuted nor ridiculed for their faith, that we all have a First Amendment right to worship as we please.”
She quoted scripture telling CNN, “First John 5:10 that says anyone who believes in the son of God has his testimony in the heart and I do not judge the testimony of anyone's heart.”
Asked for the source of her belief that two U.S. cities – Dearborn, Michigan and Frankford, Texas– are under Sharia law, the sacred law of Islam, the Republican candidate for Senate told CNN, "All I had was just some articles that I read," adding "I am of course not an expert on what goes in any municipality but certainly I believe in freedom of religion. None should be persecuted for their religion."
Dearborn's mayor called the charge at the time "irresponsible". Angle declined to explain possible remedies she would pursue if there is Sharia law in the U.S.
Her opponent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has posted a web ad accusing Angle of being “crazy”. Angle suggested her prodigious fundraising proves voters have rejected that claim.
"I have the largest fundraising numbers in the history of a senate race in the US so I think the people have spoken about the candidacy."
According to her campaign, Angle raised $14.3 million dollars in the third quarter. Her aides say ninety four percent of all contributions were from donors who gave $100 or less and totaling 194,000 individuals.
In a separate interview with CNN, Reid responded. "This election is not going to be decided by how much money someone raises.”
Angle laughed when confronted with Former President Bill Clinton's comments that a vote for her would be "negligent" saying she did not know how to respond in that context, "He has a right to his opinion."
Angle denies changing her position on Social Security and Medicare – she once advocated privatizing both. Angle says of her current views, “I didn’t change my position. What I have had is more information on that position.”
She says she now believes all Americans should be offered the option of choosing privatized accounts. Telling CNN “All I’m saying is that we need to give people the option of a personalized Social Security retirement account that they can have as a benefit and an asset themselves.”
As for the charge of "fear and smear," Reid did not back away from his ads blasting Angle:
"I've been disappointed in this election cycle," Reid said, pointing out the third party ads are having a big impact on the process.
Asked whether he believe she would be dangerous in the U.S. Senate, Reid demurred: "She would certainly be extreme."
“Somebody who has long standing views not for days, weeks, not for months but for years, and she has been very proud of how she has talked about getting rid of the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, privatizing the Veterans Administration,” he told CNN. “Her ideas are extreme, and in my contrast ads I talk about what she has said, these are her words. I haven’t made them up. You hear her saying with her own lips and mouth.”