If Rand Paul and Joe Barton have been punching bags for Democrats of late, Sharron Angle on Thursday became a pinata.
The Republican candidate for Senate in Nevada — a prior unknown and outsider who is going up against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — was pinged all day Thursday by Democratic operatives for calling the $20 billion escrow account for victims of oil spill in the the Gulf of Mexico a “slush fund.”
Angle’s campaign walked her comment back, calling her characterization “incorrect.”
But then Thursday evening, President Obama himself pounced on Angle, during remarks to a boisterous fundraising rally in Las Vegas for Reid. Obama mocked the Republican to an unusual degree for a president.
Obama mocked Angle for having views that are “even more extreme than the Republicans we got in Washington.”
“That’s saying something,” Obama said to repeated laughter. “That is saying something. I mean, she wants to phase out and privatize Social Security and Medicare.”
Audience members booed and shouted in response. One person said, “Phase her out.” Another said, “She’s a lunatic.” A third yelled, “Idiot!”
Obama referenced Barton, the Texas Republican who apologized to a BP executive at a recent hearing, giving Democrats an opening to paint the GOP as on the side of big oil companies rather than than on the side of those who have been hurt by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Paul, the Kentucky Republican running for Senate, has called Obama’s criticism of BP “un-American.”
The president lumped in Angle with Barton, and ridiculed her correction of her “slush fund” statement.
“Her campaign puts out a memo saying, ‘Well, she didn’t mean that,’” Obama said to more laughter. “They said there was some ‘confusion.’ And I’m sure she meant ‘slush fund’ in the nicest possible way.”
Republicans in Washington did not defend Angle’s “slush fund” comment but did go after Obama’s track record as a campaigner.
“Republicans can only hope that President Obama intends to campaign as hard for Harry Reid as he did for Jon Corzine, Creigh Deeds, and Martha Coakley,” said Brian Walsh, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, referencing Democratic losses for governor in New Jersey and Virginia and for Senate in Massachusetts.
And Angle is launching a TV ad Friday aimed squarely at Nevada’s jobs problem, and blaming Reid directly for high unemployment.
The Democratic National Committee, meanwhile, launched a website Friday labeling Angle as a friend of “big oil.”
Walsh, however, noted that Obama has received “more money from BP than any other politician in history.”
“Considering that statistic, it’s both laughable and embarrassing that the DNC would attack any Republican on this issue,” Walsh said.