The Corner

‘The Accidental Politician’

Sharron Angle, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate in Nevada, visited National Review’s offices in New York this afternoon. A former home-school advocate who calls herself an “accidental politician,” Angle says she’s running because it’s her “patriotic duty.” Here are some excerpts from the interview:

– Why she’s running: “I was the first one to enter the race against Harry Reid,” she says. “We needed someone in direct contrast to Harry Reid.… I knew that in order to bring out that independent voter, you had to have the contrast. You had to say we’re not the same as the Democrats, that we really have a true contrast, that we’re someone different. That’s why I jumped in the race.… It’s just been a phenomenon.”

On her primary win: “It became focused with the Tea Party Express endorsement,” she says. “The first endorsement that we got that was of great consequence was from Gun Owners of America. We knew that was of great consequence because it reached across party lines in Nevada. We’re pretty much a 90 percent Second Amendment state. We knew that we were now reaching into constituencies with independent voters as well as Democrat voters. Then this tea-party movement, that was moving across party lines. Then we got Phyllis Schlafly, and she was moving across party lines for us. Same thing with Mark Levin, the talk-show host. When those four really solidified, now we had conservatives from every passionate voter base.… That’s when we thought this thing was really doable.… I give God a lot of credit. Most everything has a providential side in American history.”

– On accusations about her sympathy to Scientology’s prison policy: “First, the disclaimer. I’m not a Scientologist,” she says. But she says the attacks bring up a bigger point. “What we’re seeing here is a very slippery slope. Whenever religion becomes the focal point — we saw this during John F. Kennedy’s race and also, to some degree, in Mitt Romney’s race — whenever this becomes the focus, we Americans should be very, very concerned. We have a First Amendment that guarantees us all the right to worship as we please. We as Americans should, even if we don’t agree, should defend their right to have that right. It shouldn’t come into play in any political arena.”

– On Social Security: “We have seen Harry Reid raid Social Security,” she says. “They’ve been using this Social Security lockbox as a slush fund for years and years, for every program and every entitlement and every big-government idea. Instead of making our senior citizens feel secure in Social Security — they’ve paid into it in good faith, we have a contract, they should be able to collect — they have a big IOU. I’d like to save Social Security, allowing that lockbox to be filled up and the key clicked.” She calls Reid’s attack ad “nonsense.” Beyond the lockbox, Angle is open to the idea of personal accounts: “Social Security and Medicare should be personalized in a way so that it cannot be raided any longer.… I’m not sure exactly how that looks, but I’m not opposed to personal accounts. I’m not opposed to free-market solutions to those kinds of things. I think Paul Ryan has some proposals on the table that I think have some merit. I don’t pretend to have all of the fine-tuning of the solution; I just know that the solution can’t be an open bank account for the government to keep using.”

On abolishing the Department of Education: “I was an educator,” she says. “I did public [school teaching], I’ve done private, home school, tutoring for juvenile justice. I’ve taught adults at community college. So I have a broad base. I also sat on a school board and served for four terms on the education committee in my state, so when I speak, I feel that I have a broad background to speak from. The Department of Education is a policy machine in Washington that sends down one-size-fits-all that fits no one, like No Child Left Behind, and generally it’s unfunded mandates to the states. Education is always best when you get all of the stakeholders involved and working toward that same commitment. That happens best at the local level. Education that happens the closest to the classroom, with the children, with the teacher — that’s where you’re going to get the best education, right there. Anything bureaucratically, administratively, these layers and layers, it just diminishes the involvement of the stakeholder in the first place. They feel like their voice is not being heard because there is too much of a loud clamor from the top.…We need to begin the cuts at the departments and agencies that are the least essential for the federal government to be involved in. I don’t think that the Department of Education is one of those essential involvements of the federal government. I think it could be done very well at the state level.… Even at the state level, I would encourage them to do it closer to the local level, if possible.”

– On Harry Reid: Reid, she says is “ruthless.” He can be “very difficult.… Harry Reid is the master of the carrot and the stick. We’ve known that for a long time in Nevada. I think the nation got a real good taste of that during Obamacare when he began to do what he does best, which is ‘let’s make a deal.’ I put nothing past him.… [He is] part and parcel of the corruption pervasive in the Washington, D.C., machinery…we’ve just had our fill.”

– On the GOP: “I like Senator Tom Coburn and the way that he votes. I also like Senator Jim DeMint. Both are stellar, stellar senators. When I ran for Congress, I had the great pleasure of meeting Congressman Mike Pence. I certainly admire him. I also admire Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her voting record.” Does she want Washington’s help? “Of course,” she says. “That’s why I’m back here [in New York and in Washington on Tuesday]. I wasn’t here just to talk to the National Review [she laughs]. I have a meeting this evening with big donors here in New York.… Tomorrow, we go to Washington, D.C., to meet with Senator Cornyn, Senator DeMint, all of the senatorial committee. We’re meeting with the NRSC, the RNC, all of that…officialdom. We’re meeting with everyone. We know that everybody has been kind of divided over what’s happened in the past year, but it’s time to unite and it’s time to go forward and it’s time to gain some ground that we haven’t had for almost 20 years. That’s the ground the makes us the shining city on the hill. We need to be back there.”

– On that supposed website shutdown: “I think you’ve misunderstood,” she says. “What we did immediately after our win was we put up a splash page that said ‘send money.’ At the bottom, you could have seen a button that said ‘issues’ and one that said ‘biography.’ So I was really still there, all my issues were there, I was still there, but it wasn’t the main focus. The main focus was ‘send money.’ That’s the page that we’ve been running.… This idea that I’ve been running from the press? I have been doing between five and seven interviews every day since I won. So that’s pure nonsense. It’s difficult to sort through all of the requests.… I’ve been going to, what I feel, is the donor base. You have Mark Levin, and Lars Larson, and even Rush Limbaugh’s show came out and said ‘send money to this woman.’ The traffic got so great that we could not receive all of it.… We know this is a national campaign.”

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

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