Politics & Policy

Get Out the Vote (or Not) Messages Get Heated, Center on Race

Harry Reid offered free pizza to University of Nevada, Las Vegas students at a Tuesday get-out-the-vote rally near Lied Library, one of many voting locations in Clark County. During his brief remarks, Reid blamed Sharron Angle for a television ad from the Republican group “Latinos for Reform” asking Hispanics not to vote. The plea was meant as a protest against the Democrats’ inaction on immigration reform.

“Listen to her latest-running ads on Hispanic television telling people not to vote. She’s trying to keep people from voting,” Reid told the crowd.

The Angle campaign pushed back on the remarks via spokesman Jarrod Agen who said it is a “blatant, desperate lie” that Angle was behind the ad. ”We encourage all Nevadans to vote, and they should vote for Sharron Angle,” Agen said in a statement. The campaign did not respond to the Democratic party’s calls for disavowal of the ad.

Reid spokesman Jon Summers defended Reid’s remarks about Angle, telling CNN, “She doesn’t get a pass on this one.”

“With her silent support, she owns the ads as much as the people who produced them. She’s the only one who hasn’t condemned them,” said Summers.

At the rally, where about half the student body is made up of minorities, Reid twice jabbed at Angle on the issue of race.

“As I look out over this crowd, I really don’t know what my opponent was talking about because you all look like Nevadans to me,” Reid told the gathering, which included both Hispanics and Asians.

Angle recently caused controversy in the press by telling a classroom made up of mostly Latino students that some of them looked Asian to her, and by telling them how she had once been mistaken for a person of Asian descent. Angle’s remarks were in answer to a question about one of her campaign advertisements featuring apparent depictions of Latinos crossing the U.S. border. She told the students the images were not necessarily  depictions of Hispanics and went on to say that all U.S. borders are a problem, including the one shared with Canada

The exchange between Reid’s and the Angle’s campaigns occurred in the midst of the heated pre-election battle over voter turnout. The Democrats are seeking to energize both young voters and Hispanics in their bid to keep Harry Reid and Rep. Dina Titus in Washington for another term. 

Just over 100,000 registered voters in Nevada are age 18 to 24. Of those, about 43,000 are Democrats, 26,000 are Republicans, and 23,000 are nonpartisan. Overall, there are about 37,000 fewer young active voters now compared with 2008.

In addition to winning the support of young voters, the Democrats are hoping for at least 12 percent Hispanic turnout. About one-quarter of Nevada’s estimated 2.8 million population is Latino. 

Early voting began on Saturday and ends October 29, four days before Election Day.

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