Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010 | 1:03 p.m.
That’s just some of what GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle said during a meeting Wednesday evening with Tea Party of Nevada candidate Scott Ashjian and Tea Party of Nevada Chairman Sid James at the home of Richard Ziser, who lost to Harry Reid in 1994 and now is an adviser to the Angle campaign and also participated in the conversation.
A tape of the 38-minute meeting that I have obtained provides a rare window into the kinds of discussions that take place during campaigns behind closed doors, redolent of the authenticity that disappears in public or in TV ads.
The conversation reveals Angle almost desperate to show Ashjian they are like-minded, that they both disdain the major parties, but insistent that the Tea Party of Nevada contender could help Reid win if he doesn’t embrace her candidacy. Ashjian emphasizes he believes a third party is the only way and that he believes he can garner a fifth of the vote, which seems fantastically optimistic, to put it mildly.
Angle expresses disdain for the national GOP, which she says she now has “in a box” because she won the primary, which caused the DC types after her June 8 victory to still be “moaning and groaning and weeping and gnashing teeth over Sue Lowden.” Later, she tries to persuade Ashjian to endorse her because she will have “juice” he can tap into to get access to Sens. Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn and Mitch McConnell.
I can just hear it now: The woman who calls the majority leader “Let’s Make a Deal Harry Reid” becomes “Let’s Make a Deal Sharron Angle”
At the meeting’s outset, Ashjian seems open to a deal, suggesting if he can get an apology from the Tea Party Express, “we can get on board.” He claims he does not want money, wants the lawsuits about his candidacy to go away – remember those voicemails from GOP lawyer Cleta Mitchell posted elsewhere on my blog suggest she was trying to “settle” something with him. By the end of the meeting, it’s clear this attempted backroom bargain is going nowhere – and I’m not sure Ashjian ever wanted it to.
There’s a lot more, too, including:
----Angle’s open disgust with her own party’s leaders and principles (or lack thereof)
----James’ obvious abandonment of Ashjian’s candidacy and insistence that Angle will lose unless he withdraws and that there is still time to get his name off the ballot
----Some brief trashing of Sen. John Ensign by Ziser and Ashjian
----Ashjian’s claims of physical threats and of being followed
----Angle’s agreement with him that both major parties are “corrupt”
----Angle’s claim to have taken over the Washoe County Republican Party and having her “guys” in the Clark County GOP
----Her promise to deliver to Ashjian “anything I can personally,” including an apology from the Tea Party Express after the election.
It is a unique and quite entertaining fly-on-the-wall look inside a campaign.
I have posted an audio file of the meeting at right and below are some snippets of the conversation. As you will hear if you listen to the audio, some of what Angle says is muffled, but I have listened to the tape four times and extracted as much as I could. (Ashjian is slated to be on “Face to Face” on Monday to discuss the taping and the conversation.)
Considering this tape is now out, you have to ask the question: What in the world was Angle thinking taking this meeting? That, by the way, is the question Cleta Mitchell asked herself after she heard about her candidate taking it.)
Angle: “The Republicans have lost their standards, they’ve lost their principles…..Really that’s why the machine in the Republican Party is fighting against me…..They have never really gone along with lower taxes and less government.”
Angle: “…what has happened to me in this whole definition of me by Harry Reid….It’s hard…and it’s especially hard when you know it’s not true.”
Angle: “The one thing you said about the machinery that has endorsed me, they have no choice… …it’s me or Reid…that’s what they got…. also this is such a national race…so really we have them in a box…they are coming to us and saying, 'We know we got to support you.' ….In some ways, it’s exactly where we wanted that good old boy thing is in the box…(She then begins using an analogy about David and Goliath, and David shedding his armor.) 'You gotta get my armor off and let me pick up this slingshot'…..that’s where I am right now, get them to leave me alone for long enough so I can…. go after this guy…. you (Ashjian) have tapped into it, the essence of America….and the essence of America is we are tired of politics as usual… only thing that’s different between you and I is I guess I was pragmatic enough to know…that third parties can’t get traction….so I said all right, I’ll work with it. just show me what the rules are and I’ll work with it…the rules are there are Democrats and Republicans…so I moved myself up within the Republican ranks….they have no choice, I’m the only game in town…. There was no one more shocked than they were when I won that primary, when I went back to Washington DC, they were still moaning and groaning and weeping and gnashing teeth over Sue Lowden…And I said I am what ya got, this is it.”
Angle: “I believe you (Ashjian) can do some real harm, not to Harry Reid but to me…I’m not sure you can win and I’m not sure I can win if you’re hurting my chance and that’s the part that scares me.”
Ashjian: “You have to understand, it’s not personal.”
Angle: “Everyone say it’s not personal but then Harry Reid wins.”
Angle: “(The Republicans in DC) don’t want me back there…because they know I’ll shake this mess up….…..I shook it up in Carson City, they hated me there…41-Angle was not a compliment……..When I go back, there may be five or six of us….maybe Joe Miller (Alaska), Ken Buck (Colorado), Christine O’Donnell (Delaware).
Ashjian: “She (O’Donnell) doesn’t have a chance.”
Angle: “Well I think she’s real.” She then skeptically mentions the Florida GOP Senate nominee as one of the group: “Marco Rubio, but that’s a stretch for me.”
Angle: Says the grass roots movement “gives me juice. That’s really all I can offer to you (Ashjian) is whatever juice I have, you have as well…You want to see DeMint, I have juice with him….I go to Washington, DC and want to see Jim DeMint, he’s right there for me. I want to see Tom Coburn, he’s right there for me. I want to see Mitch McConnell, he’s there.”
Angle: “I need your help to defeat Harry Reid. I can’t do this....”