Sharron Angle, of course, is the Republican nominee taking on Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader. She’s something of an accidental candidate—if the GOP frontrunner, Sue Lowden, hadn’t recommended that constituents keep down their medical costs by bartering with doctors using chickens, Angle would have been relegated to the failed-candidate bin. Instead, she won the primary and has been offering frequent reminders of why her campaigning style didn’t propel her to the front of the pack in the first place.
There was the time she called for armed revolution in America (and then, more recently, the time she denied saying that), the time she ran away from reporters, and the time she advocated getting rid of Social Security, then accused Harry Reid of wanting to get rid of Social Security. Her views on abortion—she opposes allowing it even in cases of rape and incest, an absolutist but hardly unheard-of position—are also controversial. In 1991, she blasted a high-school football team’s black jerseys as satanic.
But Angle insists she wants to be friends with the press (well, actually, she wants the press to be part of her PR machine—“We wanted them to ask the questions we want to answer so that they report the news the way we want it to be reported"—but no matter). If that’s true, perhaps she could consider not going out of her way to alienate the most powerful political journalist in Nevada. That’s Jon Ralston, a TV host and columnist for the Las Vegas Sun who is widely respected as an authority on Nevada politics.
After agreeing to debate Reid on Ralston’s show, Angle pulled out just hours later, and Ralston flipped out. “This is a Senate race, not a competition for h.s. president,” he half-fumed, half-smirked on Twitter, after bashing Angle on his show.
On the one hand, this is pretty comical for those of us who don’t live in Nevada. But as political strategy, it’s a head scratcher. Angle has been flailing for two months, with the comically disliked Reid pulling ahead of her as she struggles to gain traction. RealClearPolitics has Reid up 2.5 points in its poll average, a stark reversal from earlier in the campaign, when the incumbent looked like a sure trophy for Republicans.
Angle’s campaign ought to be telling her to just keep her head down and stay quiet. Reid’s unlikely to do anything to drastically improve his reputation in the next two months—and even when he has decent material, he makes it into deadly boring commercials like this. In fact, as Greg Sargent points out, the only real strategy Reid’s people have is to paint Angle as crazy. There’s no reason to help him out, but that’s just what Angle has done by withdrawing from the debate.