AP Photo/Scott Sady
Published Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010 | 12:32 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010 | 2:01 p.m.
RENO -- In the first critical week of early voting, Vice President Joe Biden used a 45-minute speech in Reno to convince Nevadans that the responsibility for the collapse of the economy doesn’t belong to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Biden also took more than a few swipes at Reid’s opponent Republican Sharron Angle, likening her to the Republican seeking his old Senate seat in Delaware, Christine O’Donnell.
“Having one person with such extreme views is not such a big deal,” Biden told the crowd of about 500 people. “But folks, folks they’re all over the place. This ain’t your father’s Republican Party.
“These women, mean it. They mean it. It would be different if it were a campaign tactic. But they mean it.”
Biden joins a steady stream of national surrogates — both Republican and Democrat — who are using Nevada to deliver the closing arguments of the mid-term elections.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin rallied in Reno this week and former Speaker Newt Gingrich campaigns for Angle in Las Vegas on Thursday. Former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama have visited for Reid.
Biden argued the job for Nevada voters isn’t simply to protect one of the Democrats' most powerful incumbents, but to halt the wave of Tea Party candidates who would make it “more difficult to govern.”
“The Republican Party is in disarray,” Biden said. “That’s not good for Democrats. That’s not good period. It’s not good to see the Republican Party taken over by the Tea Party.”
In his opening remarks, Reid criticized Angle for her belief the doctrine of separation of church and state isn’t enshrined in the U.S. Constitution — harkening again to similar comments made by O’Donnell that have made national news this week.
“Two months ago she said, get this, that there’s no such thing in the Constitution as separation of church and state,” Reid said. “Try the First Amendment.
“If my opponent wants to run on her constitutional expertise, she should at least know what’s in it.”
Biden used most of his stump speech to deliver Democrats’ closing argument that while the economy is still suffering, they aren’t responsible for its collapse. Instead, he blamed the Bush administration and big banks.
Returning Republicans to office, he said, would return the policies responsible for collapse.
“I don’t remind you of this because I want to re-litigate the past, I remind you so we don’t relive the past,” he said.
But Angle spokesman Jarrod Agen said Biden isn't an effective messenger for Reid, particularly since Nevada's economy is struggling so badly.
"Nevada voters despise Senator Reid, so Harry has flown in his Washington, D.C. cronies to stick up for him. But ultimately, an appearance by Vice President Joe Biden will do more harm than good for Harry Reid because Joe is one of the main accomplices in destroying Nevada's economy," Agen said in a written release. "Spouting the same tired rhetoric we've all heard before, Biden ignored the fact that he was standing in a city struggling under the Obama Administration and a state with the worst unemployment in the nation. Voters fell for Biden's empty promises two years ago, but they won't be fooled again."