Las Vegas Sun

November 29, 2015

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Harry Reid accentuates the positive in final campaign push

Harry Reid

Harry Reid

Sun Coverage

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has returned to the state for a final campaign push in which he will attempt to persuade Nevadans to return him to office by not only scaring voters away from his opponent but also giving them a list of reasons to support him.

In a subtle shift from his campaign’s recent strategy of almost exclusively negative campaigning against his Republican rival, Sharron Angle, Reid has returned to the argument that the state needs him because of the powerful position he has in Congress.

At a campaign event here Wednesday, Reid paraded local elected officials — Republicans and Democrats — before the assembled media to support his argument that essential federal funding for infrastructure and social programs has flowed to their communities because of his position.

In a jab at Angle, who thinks the federal government should be dramatically scaled back and fulfill only those duties expressly enumerated in the Constitution, Reid argued it is his “constitutional duty” to spend federal money.

“Part of my constitutional duty is to do congressionally directed spending,” he said, pulling out a copy of the Constitution given to him by the late U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd. “I am vigorous in going forward with congressionally directed spending. I fight for it.”

It’s a difficult argument to make to an electorate that polls indicate is deeply concerned about federal spending.

Angle, who spent the day fundraising in Washington, didn’t pass up the opportunity to hit back.

“The voters of Nevada are ready to retire Harry Reid for exactly this reason: He spends too much of our money,” Angle spokeswoman Ciara Mathews said. “Nevadans know they can count on Sharron Angle to go to Washington and fight against the reckless spending that has led us to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.”

But Reid hopes the appeal of his argument is in its details. He pointed Wednesday to improvements at airports throughout the state, anti-methamphetamine grants in rural Nevada and funding for police officers. Reid said such money would disappear if Angle, a laissez-faire purist, is elected.

His pointed remark was the exception. Most of Reid’s rhetoric was free of the attacks his campaign has waged against Angle, largely on television, since June. Reid has hit her for stating senators aren’t responsible for creating jobs, her opposition to requiring insurance companies to cover mammograms and her push to eliminate Social Security — to name a few.

Those attacks have helped narrow the substantial lead Angle held after she won the Republican primary.

Reid defended the negative campaign, saying he has almost uniformly used Angle’s own words to attack her.

“All my ads are contrast ads,” he said. “I’m not making stuff up.”

Reid’s latest spot, however, accuses Angle of trying to repeal insurance mandates for mammograms when she was a state lawmaker. Angle actually proposed legislation to require mammogram coverage, and, although she claims to oppose such mandates, never sponsored legislation to repeal them.

The negative campaign followed efforts by Reid to reintroduce himself to Nevada voters through biographical ads and commercials highlighting his efforts on behalf of the state and its businesses. Those ads — including one in which an MGM Resorts International executive credited him with saving the financing for CityCenter — did little to improve his standing in the polls.

The negative advertising from both candidates — Angle’s latest series of ads accuses Reid of being the best friend illegal immigrants could have — has come with a price for Reid and Angle. More than half of the electorate views both candidates negatively. And a CNN/Time poll this week found 10 percent of likely voters opting for “none of the above” rather than voting for either candidate.

Reid has said he doesn’t need 50 percent of the vote to win and political strategists have speculated that a “none of the above” campaign will surface to aid the majority leader. It’s speculation Reid didn’t dispel when asked if he is telling voters who won’t vote for him to select none of the above instead of Angle.

“I want everyone to vote for me,” he said.

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