Harry Reid and Sharron Angle trade blistering TV ads in tight US Senate race in Nevada

By Michael R. Blood, AP
Thursday, August 26, 2010

Harsh ads fly in tight Nevada US Senate race

Rape. Scientology. Greedy bankers. Armed militias. A love story gone wrong.

Those images and words in dueling TV ads Thursday were the latest to emerge in Nevada’s increasingly bitter Senate race, underscoring the tightness of the contest that is among the most closely watched in the nation.

Republican Sharron Angle released a 30-second spot that calls Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s relationship with President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “tragic love story” that left the nation with Wall Street bailouts, a failed stimulus plan and double-digit unemployment.

Reid put up an ad that depicts Angle as a dangerous eccentric who wants inmates to get massages in Scientology programs, ponders armed insurrection against the government and wants impregnated rape victims to be forced to carry the baby to term.

Even in a race that has seen an abundance of nasty exchanges, the derisive tone of the ads was striking.

“It shows the race is very close and I think the ads are going to get worse,” said Republican consultant Robert Uithoven, who advised one of Angle’s rivals in the primary, Sue Lowden. “Voters are going to get subjected to a lot more of this.”

“Sharron Angle has to keep the focus on Harry Reid … and Harry Reid wants to make the race about Sharron Angle,” Uithoven said.

Polls show the Nevada contest is a dead heat, and millions of dollars have been spent by the candidates and outside groups on a flood of TV and radio advertising in advance of the November election.

In an interview Wednesday, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine said the tight Nevada race is being influenced by the state’s struggling economy and “if you are an incumbent you have to run harder.”

But “as the election gets nearer, the issue is less, ‘Well, am I happy with things?’ ” Kaine said.

It’s “a choice,” Kaine added. “The more people think about the choice, the better Reid is going to do.”

The ads follow familiar narratives in the race: Reid has been depicting Angle as too extreme, and Angle has long argued that Reid is personally responsible for the state’s nation-leading unemployment, bankruptcy and foreclosure rates.

In Reid’s 30-second ad, a drum beats in the background and black-and-white images flash on the screen as a narrator asks incredulously, “What do you call a candidate who says the way things are going that time may be coming for Second Amendment remedies, an armed response to our government? Who says a teenage rape victim should be forced to have the baby?” The narrator later alludes to a proposal Angle made in the Nevada Legislature to use a Scientology program in prisons.

“What do you call that candidate? Extreme,” the narrator says as a photograph of Angle appears on the screen.

Angle opposes abortion in all instances. Earlier this year, Angle told a conservative radio talk show, “The Lars Larson Show,” that “if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.”

Angle’s ad rolls through photos of Reid, Obama and Pelosi while a narrator blames the Democrats for Wall Street bailouts, double-digit unemployment and Washington’s record deficit. Scenes of portly, cigar-puffing men appear on screen.

“Together they promised to change America and, boy, did they,” the narrator says in a mocking voice.

“They say you can’t buy love,” the narrator says, as photos of Reid embracing Obama and kissing Pelosi appear. “But we’ve certainly paid a heavy price.”

Angle’s campaign said her comments were taken out of context and Reid “is just afraid to talk about his own failed economic record.” Reid’s campaign called Angle’s ad “false and misleading” and said federal stimulus spending had saved or created 29,000 jobs in the state.

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