Reid: Tea Party Cheering for Government Shutdown

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April 7, 2011, 8:36 a.m.

Ex-As­semb. Shar­ron Angle’s (R) $14M haul in the third quarter is jaw drop­ping. It is by far the most we’ve seen raised by a GOP Sen­ate chal­lenger so far, and it means that Angle will be able to blunt Sen­ate Maj. Lead­er Harry Re­id’s (D) sig­ni­fic­ant CoH ad­vant­age. At the end of the second quarter, Re­id had $8M in his bank ac­count to Angle’s $1.76M (Hot­line re­port­ing, 10/12).

Want More On This Race? Check out the Hot­line Dash­board for a com­pre­hens­ive run­down of this race, in­clud­ing stor­ies, polls, ads, FEC num­bers, and more!

Re­id spokes­per­son Kelly Steele, in a state­ment: “Shar­ron Angle’s fun­drais­ing num­ber is mean­ing­less without dis­clos­ing how much they spent to raise it. In fact, Angle’s shady fun­draisers are re­puted for cook­ing the books and flee­cing their cli­ents, so any num­ber Angle may as­sert to gen­er­ate me­dia buzz is highly sus­pect” (re­lease, 10/12).

It “wasn’t clear” on 10/12 “how much of the im­press­ive haul ended up fat­ten­ing her cam­paign’s bot­tom line.”

“The steady flow of money in­to the chal­lenger’s wal­let is a sig­nal” that GOP­ers “around the na­tion see Angle as a vi­able threat to Re­id” (Blood, AP, 10/12).

Las Ve­gas Sun’s Ral­ston writes, an “in­cred­ible 161,358 people sent her checks of $200 or less. Her av­er­age dona­tion is $90,” ac­cord­ing to Angle spokes­per­son Jar­rod Agen.

“This is real… grass roots. And there is a wild­fire blaz­ing through the grass roots, with burn­ing hatred for Re­id an­im­at­ing Angle’s chances.”

“Of those small con­trib­ut­ors, my guess is only a hand­ful of the 161,358 people know much about Angle. They have no idea about her re­li­gious fer­vor, fail to sep­ar­ate her church (which ap­par­ently doesn’t like Mor­mons) from our state, or her mul­ti­far­i­ous po­s­i­tions on So­cial Se­cur­ity and Medi­care, her sym­pathy for ‘Second Amend­ment rem­ed­ies’ or her latest in­cen­di­ary com­ments” about Dear­born, MI, and nonex­ist­ent Frank­ford, TX, “im­ply­ing ‘the Muslims are com­ing, the Muslims are com­ing.’”

“But they don’t need to know much” about Angle. “They know enough” about Re­id (10/13).

Bill Clin­ton “blamed” George W. Bush “for put­ting the na­tion in a deep hole and urged” Dems on 10/12 to give Re­id “more time to patch up the eco­nomy.”

Clin­ton, at the rally: “You and I know the only reas­on this is a tough race is be­cause this is a tough time.”

Re­id: “The num­ber one is­sue on my mind, your mind, is the eco­nomy. … We all wish things were bet­ter.”

Clin­ton: “If you care about jobs, you have to vote for Harry Re­id.”

Clin­ton “said he,” not GOP­ers, “prac­ticed fisc­al con­ser­vat­ism and bal­anced the fed­er­al budget.”

Clin­ton: “I al­most gag every time I hear them talk about, ‘I want to bal­ance the budget.’ … They didn’t give a rip about the de­fi­cit un­til we had a Demo­crat­ic pres­id­ent” (Silva, AP, 10/13).

Angle’s cam­paign on 10/12 “at­temp­ted to down­play her re­cent com­ments sug­gest­ing that sharia law is tak­ing hold” in two US cit­ies.

Agen, in an email: “She was ref­er­en­cing some in­cid­ents re­por­ted in the press, but made it clear there was noth­ing wide­spread and that we have free­dom of re­li­gion in this na­tion.”

Agen “said Angle wasn’t spe­cific­ally at­tack­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, but re­fer­ring to press re­ports, al­though he did not spe­cify which ones.”

Dear­born May­or Jack O’Re­illy: “This is the most ab­surd, in­ane an­swer I’ve ever heard. And she was led by the ques­tion­er, but should have been ma­ture enough to say I don’t think that’s hap­pen­ing. … Muslims have been in Dear­born, there has been a mosque in Dear­born for 90 years. So the no­tion that there’s this new phe­nomen­on and Muslims are tak­ing over Amer­ica is cer­tainly not sub­stan­ti­ated in this com­munity.”

Frank­ford “was an­nexed in­to Dal­las” in ‘75.

Ad­vocacy group Coun­cil on Amer­ic­an-Is­lam­ic Re­la­tions spokes­per­son Ibrahim Hoop­er called Angle’s com­ments “an ex­ample of in­co­her­ent bigotry.”

Hoop­er: “It is pretty clear that she has something against Is­lam and Muslims but she is so in­co­her­ent you don’t know what she stands for” (Khan, ABC News’ The Note, 10/12).

Dem con­sult­ant/Muslim res­id­ent of Dear­born Tarek Bey­doun “is per­son­ally pay­ing for a rob­ocall to tell” NV voters “that Angle is wrong about Dear­born and Muslim-Amer­ic­ans” (Wat­trick, MLive.com, 10/12).

“It seems hav­ing a po­lar­iz­ing, high-pro­file” Dem “as their top tar­get would unite” NV GOP­ers. “In­stead the state GOP finds it­self en­gaged in in­terne­cine at­tacks over the can­did­acy” of Re­id.

“The in­tra­party feud­ing peaked last week” with state Sen. Bill Rag­gio (R) en­dors­ing Re­id.

Dems, “to be sure, have had their own share of in­fight­ing.” But the GOP “civil war un­der­scores what the party lacks” and Dems have: “an un­dis­puted head of their party, such as Re­id, who can im­pose or­der” (Schwartz, Las Ve­gas Sun, 10/13).

The polit­ic­al en­vir­on­ment in 2006 was al­most uniquely well-suited for the Demo­crats who kicked out in­cum­bent Re­pub­lic­ans from the Sen­ate. Now, as they pre­pare reelec­tion bids at a time when every­one in Wash­ing­ton is more un­pop­u­lar than ever, those same Demo­crats are on the front line of the dif­fi­cult battle to re­tain a slim ma­jor­ity.

A year be­fore the 2012 elec­tions, Demo­crats face a rare situ­ation as a ma­jor­ity that starts an elec­tion year as the un­der­dog. Demo­crat­ic hopes of keep­ing the Sen­ate are daunt­ingly nar­row. Thanks in part to the party’s suc­cess in 2006, they are de­fend­ing twice as many seats as Re­pub­lic­ans; thanks to a lousy eco­nomy and a furi­ous elect­or­ate, those seats are tough­er to de­fend. And swing-state Demo­crats who care­fully cul­tiv­ate their in­de­pend­ent brand have a vir­tu­al run­ning mate they didn’t an­ti­cip­ate — Pres­id­ent Obama, who faces his own dif­fi­cult reelec­tion path.

Re­pub­lic­ans, who need a net gain of four seats to win back con­trol of the Sen­ate, plan to spend mil­lions link­ing vul­ner­able Demo­crats to Obama and his policies. In must-win states for Demo­crats — Montana, Mis­souri, Vir­gin­ia, Ohio, and Flor­ida — Obama’s ap­prov­al rat­ing is low enough to drag down Demo­crat­ic per­form­ance.

“Pres­id­ent Obama and his policies are the is­sue,” said Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Sen­at­ori­al Com­mit­tee Chair­man John Cornyn of Texas. “Ul­ti­mately, what we’re go­ing to see is a ref­er­en­dum on the pres­id­ent and his policies. They can’t run from the fact that they have been in charge, par­tic­u­larly in the Sen­ate.

“We’ve seen this already mani­fest it­self when it comes to the pres­id­ent trav­el­ing to vari­ous states, where Demo­crat­ic of­fice­hold­ers and can­did­ates are nowhere to be found, be­cause they real­ize the neg­at­ive as­so­ci­ation with the pres­id­ent and his policies. The fact of the mat­ter is, they’re not go­ing to be able to es­cape it,” Cornyn said.

In­deed, Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates face un­com­fort­able ques­tions any time Obama stops in their home states. Dur­ing a re­cent vis­it to Vir­gin­ia, for ex­ample, Obama did not ap­pear with former Gov. Tim Kaine — a Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate for Sen­ate — but Re­pub­lic­an Gov. Bob Mc­Don­nell was all too happy to join Obama at a vet­er­ans event. (Kaine, the former Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee chair­man, wasn’t in­vited to the of­fi­cial event, but he’s likely to ap­pear with Obama when the pres­id­ent cam­paigns in the Old Domin­ion over the next year.) Pennsylvania Demo­crat­ic Sen. Bob Ca­sey‘s cam­paign made a pub­lic point of re­mov­ing him from Obama’s list of cam­paign bund­lers. And Re­pub­lic­ans made hay when Rep. Shel­ley Berkley, D-Nev., didn’t both­er chan­ging her flight so that she could meet Obama in Las Ve­gas last month.

But the real­ity is that the pho­tos of a Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate and Obama em­bra­cing prob­ably ex­ist some­where. Sen. Claire Mc­Caskill, D-Mo., a ma­jor Obama back­er in 2008 who is fiercely pro­tect­ive of her in­de­pend­ent im­age, re­cog­nizes that real­ity and is tak­ing ad­vant­age of it: This week, she told a home-state news­pa­per she would ask the pres­id­ent to raise money for her reelec­tion.

“I don’t al­ways agree with the pres­id­ent,” Mc­Caskill told the St. Louis Beacon. “He’ll be the first to tell you that. But I sup­port the pres­id­ent.”

Sep­ar­at­ing one­self from a pres­id­ent is a touchy task for any in­cum­bent. Get­ting dis­tance on a par­tic­u­lar is­sue can work — think West Vir­gin­ia Demo­crat­ic Sen. Joe Manchin’s ef­forts in 2010 to make clear his op­pos­i­tion to cap-and-trade le­gis­la­tion. But do it too much and a can­did­ate risks ali­en­at­ing the base — something that can mat­ter in a close con­test.

“You all hang to­geth­er or you all hang sep­ar­ately,” is how Demo­crat­ic poll­ster Mark Mell­man put it.

Re­pub­lic­ans find them­selves on fer­tile soil when ty­ing Demo­crats to an un­pop­u­lar pres­id­ent in their quest for just four seats. North Dakota, Mis­souri, Neb­raska — where Sen. Ben Nel­son has yet to com­mit to reelec­tion — and Montana — where Sen. Jon Test­er is run­ning neck-and-neck with GOP Rep. Denny Re­hberg — are likely to vote for the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee. Demo­crat­ic open seats in pres­id­en­tial battle­grounds like Wis­con­sin, Vir­gin­ia, and New Mex­ico are in­vit­ing tar­gets for the NR­SC. And even in states in which Re­pub­lic­ans will have a more dif­fi­cult time knock­ing off Demo­crats, like Flor­ida, Michigan, and Ohio, Obama won’t cruise to vic­tory, giv­ing the GOP three more, al­beit nar­row, open­ings.

Demo­crats are con­fid­ent they can hold the Sen­ate. Sen. Chuck Schu­mer of New York said last month it would be “al­most im­possible” for Re­pub­lic­ans to win enough seats to take over. “The facts on the ground are a little dif­fer­ent than what’s re­flec­ted in [Cornyn’s] talk­ing points,” ad­ded Matt Canter, Demo­crat­ic Sen­at­ori­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee spokes­man. “Each of these races will be a choice between a Demo­crat and a Re­pub­lic­an.”

Demo­crats ac­tu­ally have a few op­por­tun­it­ies. Re­pub­lic­an Sens. Scott Brown of Mas­sachu­setts and Dean Heller of Nevada are each ex­pect­ing dif­fi­cult reelec­tion bids. Brown’s chief rival, Demo­crat Eliza­beth War­ren, raised $3.15 mil­lion in just a few weeks on the trail, and Heller’s foe, Berkley, is run­ning even with him in both pub­lic and private polling. (Demo­crats be­lieve they have a shot in Ari­zona, too, but only if they get the right can­did­ate.)

“If we’re play­ing of­fense, like we are today, from now un­til Elec­tion Day, we’re go­ing to hold the Sen­ate,” the DSCC’s Canter said.

But the theme is the same: In­cum­bents are in trouble. If the last three tu­mul­tu­ous elec­tion cycles made one thing clear, it’s that in­cum­bency has lost its ad­vant­age and that life is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult for any­one who holds of­fice.

“People are very neg­at­ive on Wash­ing­ton and of course any­thing that em­an­ates from Wash­ing­ton, it seems like,” Cornyn said. A year out, like in 2006, that’s a good thing for the minor­ity party.

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