National Republicans have been emphatically defending Nevada Senate tea party candidate Sharron Angle -- even as Angle herself has been busy badmouthing them, according to tapes released Jon Ralston at the Las Vegas Sun.
"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 said in taped discussions with her third-party opponent Scott Ashjian as she tried to persuade him to drop out of the race. Angle, who has the backing of national tea party groups, was making the case to Ashjian, who is the nominee of the Nevada Tea Party, that his candidacy would split the Nevada conservative vote and effectively help Democratic Sen. Harry Reid. After the meeting, Ashjian reiterated that he has no intention of dropping out.
You can listen to the full recording here:
Officials from Angle's camp didn't shy away from the leaked tape Monday. Indeed, they hailed her remarks as long-overdue candor from political leaders, Ralston reports.
"Sharron expressed what many working families in Nevada and across the country are feeling," Angle spokesman Jarrod Agen said in a statement. "They are angry with Harry Reid, they are angry with Washington D.C., and they want blunt plain-spoken leaders who are willing to shake things up."
Meanwhile, Democrats are already using the tape to underline a very different theme: what they see as Angle's hypocritical relationship with D.C. Republicans.
At one point, Angle outlines the dilemma that national Republican leaders faced after Angle defeated establishment candidate Sue Lowden in this summer's GOP primary:
There was no one more shocked than they were when I won that primary. When I went back to Washington, D.C., 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 also boasts about the access she now has to the establishment:
You want to see DeMint, I have juice with him. ... I go to Washington, D.C., 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.
And Angle also expresses doubts about her chances with Ashjian acting as a spoiler:
I believe you 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.
Angle, whom Democrats have sought to depict as too extreme for mainstream voters, on Sunday received the endorsement of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the state's largest newspaper. The editorial board suggested that Reid could offer voters only the status quo.
(Photo: AP/Julie Jacobson)