September 6th, 2010
12:57 PM ET
10 years ago

Sharron Angle tells CNN: 'I'll be a mainstream senator'

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.

Filed under: 2010 • Sharron Angle
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Livin the good life

    "I'll be a mainstream Senator." = "I'll say ANYTHING until/in order to, I get the job."

    After that, we'll see how mainstream I turn out to be.

    Beau Colby

    September 6, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. GI Joe

    "Out of context"


    September 6, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  3. D.

    You have someone depicted as extreme by the most extreme senator Harry Reid, who has been the head of the Nevada gambling commission, and then in the last two years have been gambling on many simple American families' lives (many of them in Nevada). Instead of growing and helping the economy, he stuck to ideologies! I think what we hear from Angle is that "she has ideology" but "she will be pragmatic" (unlike Reid). At these economic times pragmatism is main stream!!! The rest is talk talk talk (and that was Harry Reid's vocation!)

    September 6, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. Bill

    You should vote for the guy that is going to help your home state at all times. Not for a party affiliation.

    September 6, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    From all she has said, how can she claim this? I think that if she were to get elected, I would have to think twice about the sanity of the people who vote in Nevada.

    September 6, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  6. Michael

    If Angle's definition of "mainstream" is the Taliban, then I am sure she is right on the money.

    September 6, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. Livin the good life

    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.

    Why stop there!!!?

    Lets' also get rid of homelessness, unemployment, bullying, lying, cheating, stealing, adultery, gambling, smoking, drinking, diseases, etc...

    Maybe Washington AND the US would be better off on those besides things like education, IRS, EPA, SS,Medicare, Medicad,... things people do rely on due to the fact that the programs are there to help people AND protect us from ourselves! It appears to me that these people want you to quit smoking, drinking, wear your sealtbelts,...yada...but, they do not think these other programs help. And do you know why? They want to save more money INTO THEIR pockets and not the average American who pays into the system and benefits from them! Screw the middle class all you can but, brainwash them into thinking you are doing THEM a favor!...Beau Colby

    September 6, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. Big Ed

    Right. She'll be a "mainstream" Senator and I'm Elvis!

    September 6, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Michael S

    Sharron Angle mainstream? I'd believe that if it wasn't for everything I've ever read about her.

    September 6, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. GL

    She is a liar. All these Tea Baggers are white old people and I am tried of the news media give these racist fools all this attention.

    September 6, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. Don Wuerl

    YES! Angle is too extreme and dangerous; however, she is staying on message. YIKES, PLEASE GIVE THAT WOMAN SOMETHING OR KEEP HER IN THE ASYLUM!!!

    September 6, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. The Unsub

    Unfortunately, she'll be a mainstream idiot!

    September 6, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  13. Mid American Independent

    If she believes she is mainstream, her circle of friends is far too small and exclusive.

    Birds of a feather flock together. It is public servants who understand they are to represent all who venture outside to get to know the views and lives of others, therefore having a broader more knowledgeable viewpoint.

    This woman is clueless.

    September 6, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. GL

    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.

    She is a big liar and will say anything to get elected. I am so sick of these racist white people in this country that continue to lie and say extreme nutting things to get the nutty whites voters to come out and vote out of hate. You Republicans vote out of hate and this type of voting is going to destroy this country.

    September 6, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. ramtruck2500

    Here's wht the stupid republicans should get under the likes of Angle. A complete spending freeze by the government . no money spent no releif moneis for anyone except the top 5%. The the rest of us can sit back and chant NO and watch everything just go to a total abyss. if you think the economy is going to fail repeat it enough and by god your going to get your wish. if you dont understand what a recession and its legnth and relationship for christ sake research it if you are smart enough to use google but dont be SHEEP.

    September 6, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  16. Edwin

    She says she'll be a mainstream senator, yet she runs on the Tea Party? Isn't that a contradiction in terms, since the Tea Party is NOT one of the mainstream parties?

    Or is she saying that she's really just another GOP member, who got nominated because she chose to jump on the latest bandwagon?

    September 6, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. True American

    If she is backed by Palin and the GOP, she will be just another phony conservative elected into office on the promise to cut spending but will end up building bridges to nowhere and funding unnecessary wars and Halliburton. All the while depleting the federal reserve of income tax revenue. Financial chaos, here we come-deja vu 2002 and 2004. Hopefully the GOP don't pick up any more seats and drive us into another recession just as we are coming out of the one they previously caused.

    September 6, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. artraveler

    I guess she was mischaracterized by the press becaused they used her own words which makes it kind of hard to buy this "mainstream" line. She is a bomb thrower and we need people that want to roll up their sleeves and go to work, not posture on every issue. The Republican Party has acted treasonous in their total lack of regard for the people in their rush to be against the president no matter what he says. I can imagine their reaction to the other two parts of "motherhood, apple pue, and Chevrolet" since they have already shown they are against Chevrolet (or GM, the parent company).

    September 6, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  19. NJGeminigirl

    If you guys in Nevada vote in this whack-job lady, then you deserve it! Now she is trying to paint herself as a MAINSTREAM candidate! She is downright nuts!! She is so far right it is downright frightening. It is McCain's fault that a half-term nut-job like Palin was unleashed on the rest of us, and then it was Palin's fault that we have extreme whackos like Sharron Engle, Rand Paul, Michele Bachmann. PLEASE, real Americans, please, let's not fall for their phony agenda. And as for McCain, he's been there like FOREVER, please vote him out. It's time for him to pull out the old rocking chair! Maybe in due time he'll apologize for unleashing Eskimo Barbie on us. We can only hope.

    September 6, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. BeverlyNC

    Since when?

    This is the woman who wants to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, Public schools, and shut down the government.

    Angle is a dangerous extremisit who literally runs from the media because she cannot answer a single question about her views.

    How can she possibly handle the pressure and decision-making responsibilities if she keeps changing her views every week? She doesn't know how to be a leader or to govern.

    She is not "mainstream" anything!

    September 6, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  21. usualone

    Sad if her type is considered mainstream American.

    September 6, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. Donkey Party

    People like Angle make a mockery of our political system. Shame on her, and any who would ever consider voting for this radical extremist fundamentalist.

    September 6, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  23. Mona

    Sometimes controversial statements? If anyone deserves a pithy to the point lead, this woman does. If you don't get what you want at the polling station then you might have to use second amendment remedies? Even a child who is raped or the victim of incest should be forced to bear a child because that is God's plan? Come on! You don't worry so much about being fair to the President. You don't go after the Republicans for using legislative tactics to stop everything the Democrats try to do to help the country get out of this economic mess. Instead you blame the President. It's disgusting, selfish and immoral what these people do. The end justifies the means with conservatives these days. And I blame those in the media who pick every lie and broadcast it as if it is just an opinion equal to the "opinion" of anyone who speaks the truth in opposition. Remember the death panels? You went with that for two weeks.

    September 6, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. Independent

    Please, she is far from "mainstream." She probably has a "R" and a "L" on the bottom of her shoes so she won't get confused....This woman is a disaster walking...

    September 6, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. Tony in Maine

    If she's going to be a mainstream senator, that would mean she's been lying.

    September 6, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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