Sharron Angle’s former rival offers advice: Do more media

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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The former primary rival of Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who is in a tough race with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has some advice for her if she wants to win in November: do more interviews with the press.

Danny Tarkanian, who along with Sue Lowden, lost to Angle in Nevada’s U.S Senate Republican primary, told The Daily Caller in an interview that he thinks “Sharron is definitely the favorite of the race” against Reid because too many voters have made up their minds that they won’t re-elect him.

“I’d rather have the ball in my court where people are going to make a decision about me rather than already have their mind [made] up, like they do with Reid,” he said.

But there’s at least one thing he thinks she could be doing better.

Asked what he thinks Angle—who has suffered in the polls as a result of Reid’s campaign spending millions to portray her as extreme—should do to win, he suggested that she not be afraid to speak candidly about her positions.

“You asked, is there anything I would suggest she should do differently? I would get on all talk shows and TV shows and media interviews and I wouldn’t back down from any and I would express positions that she’s been expressing over the past several years and show it with confidence even if some of the people she’s talking to don’t agree with them,” Tarkanian said.

Angle’s media strategy in the general election has routinely made news. So far she has avoided all but the friendliest interviews since winning the Republican primary. She appears to have learned a lesson from Kentucky candidate Rand Paul, who after winning his Republican Senate primary, received bad press for interviews he did on NPR and MSNBC. But Angle’s avoidance of the media has become a story itself. While TheDC  interviewed her during the primary — and she spoke then of the necessity of speaking to reporters — her campaign has not granted any interview requests from us since her primary victory.

“I’ve seen her in the primary, and she’s always been confident speaking about her positions until she got in the general and I think somebody or some people — or maybe it was some of the hits she was taking from Reid or maybe somebody warned her — she became very nervous of how she was explaining her positions,” Tarkanian said.

But Angle’s campaign has recently added several seasoned communications professionals to her team. “I could tell you her staff is doing a much better job,” Tarkanian said.

Reid’s strategy is simple, according to Tarkanian. It’s too vilify Angle so voters, who he already knows aren’t voting for him, can’t bring themselves to vote for her. In order to make sure that doesn’t happen, says Tarkanian, Angle has to be open to all press — even outlets that aren’t considered friendly.

“I would go out there and express my views to everyone, and not back down from any interviews and speak with confidence about what I believe in,” Tarkanian said. “The people [who] don’t agree with those positions won’t vote for her anyways, but the ones that are still undecided and hear her, and they understand why she believes these things, I think she has a better shot at getting their votes.”

Recent polls show Angle within several points of Reid, a rebound after several weeks of slipping — though conventional wisdom holds that Angle, of all possible GOP challengers, is giving Reid the best chance to win re-election. Observers say, however, that it is a big mistake to count Angle out.

Erik Erickson, the editor of the conservative Red State, told readers of his blog this week to contribute to her campaign because she can definitely win. In an email, Erickson said Angle just “needs to keep this close.”

“The race is a referendum on Harry Reid, not on Sharron Angle,” he explained. “Anyone who says she cannot win is not paying attention to what is happening on the ground in Nevada. There is a reason Harry Reid’s own son won’t use his last name in his gubernatorial bid.”

Reid’s son, Rory, is currently running for governor in Nevada.

Jon Ralston, the Nevada politics guru who writes a newspaper column and hosts a TV show, told TheDC that “of course she can still win.”

“If she can keep focus on Reid and [the] economy, and [the] economy does not improve here (it almost surely won’t), and combat the ‘Crazy Sharron’ campaign, Reid’s negatives are so high anyone could beat him,” he said.

Angle’s spokesman, Jerry Stacy, reached for comment, said, “Polls show a close race, and the frustration is being felt by the Reid campaign because Senator Harry Reid has spent millions trying to distract the voters from his record and the Reid campaign had this false notion that the incumbent Majority Leader would deserve this entitlement to be way ahead in the polls, and that hope has not materialized for them.”

Reid’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

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