Nevada GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle sat down with Human Events editors Thomas Winter, Jason Mattera and John Gizzi on June 16. Here are excerpts from the interview.
HUMAN EVENTS: Almost within hours of being certified as the nominee, you have been under intense attack for a number of things and I’d just like to begin by saying—you articulated a position with me and during the primary calling for abolishing the Departments of Energy and Education. Would you say why you support that position and what other government agencies would you close down or attempt to close down as a U.S. Senator?
ANGLE: I believe that my exact words have always been that we need to prioritize those expenditures of the federal government in a, b and c priorities and when they ask a conservative they always say, So where would you make those cuts? And I believe that on the c priority list are things like the Dept. of Education, the Dept. of Energy and those are the places where we should begin those defunding things because we know we can’t continue the way we have been—spend, spend, spend—and expect to have a different result.
HE: The other thing, of course, and I brought the newspaper just for your exact words. You said “support a nuclear processing facility at Yucca Mountain.” True?
ANGLE: I don’t believe that that is an exact quote. Usually, there is a difference. I have voted against a repository or a land fill at Yucca Mountain and I think that everyone understands that the science has now outpaced the need for a repository of that kind. We do have a secure test site which Yucca Mountain is a private part of that test site but it is within that secure area. But we do have a secure test site where we have been doing research and development for years on nuclear materials and we have also been transporting those nuclear materials since 1954 across 400 million miles and it only makes sense that we should explore the potentials for nuclear processing and also the whole nuclear energy industry being somehow invitational to them in the state of Nevada. As you know, we need to diversify our economy and the energy industry would be a great place to begin that diversification.
HE: Mrs. Angle, you were at a lunch yesterday with some senators. Have they been welcoming to you?
ANGLE: Yes, the issue here is always about solidifying your base and that’s why we ran such a clean campaign. I’m not sure how closely you watched the campaign in Nevada but we did run a very clean campaign. We never did negative commercials against our opponents and the reason was because we knew that at the end of the day on Tuesday, we were going to have to be friends, have a solid base going forward if we really expect to defeat Harry Reid in a purple state and also move our focus directly onto that independent registration. My purpose here in Washington, D.C., this week is once again to solidify that base.
We know that we’re a national campaign and we need a national presence—a solid presence—of coalition of the willing that Reagan said we needed and my purpose here is to bring the coalition of the willing to bear on a campaign that is aimed at defeating Harry Reid, which is really a referendum on Harry Read, not so much about Sharron Angle, but a referendum on Harry Reid and his policies and why he has not only failed Nevada but also America.
HE: There are two recent news reports out – one saying that in 1984 you switched your registration from Republican to Democrat. If you want to just comment on that.
ANGLE: I wasn’t political in 1984 but I did have a friend in Winnemucca who was a ‘Southern Democrat.’ He was raised in Georgia and when he moved to Nevada he was still a Democrat and he ran for office and I knew that I couldn’t vote in the primary for him if I wasn’t a registered Democrat. So I registered Democrat so I could vote for my friend.
HE: Sen. Mitch McConnell said he is not going to campaign against Harry Reid.
ANGLE: He was very supportive of me yesterday, when I met Sen. McConnell.
HE: So the Roll Call report is inaccurate.
ANGLE: I think that we always have to be careful how we approach things, especially when we have a fight and certainly Sen. McConnell has a big fight from that minority position to uphold conservative principles and values in the Senate and so he has to take care of business here and I think that is what he was doing.
HE: The national media has widely reported that [Reno] Mayor Bob Cashell and Dawn Gibbons have both said they would support Harry Reid. Could you expatiate on them becoming Republicans for Reid?
Angle: Well, everyone makes their choices. It is a free country and that’s why we like it because we have free elections and everyone can support whoever they like. I have talked to [RNC] Chairman Steele about this problem that we have with folks running right and speaking left, so that’s what is going on here.
HE: What is the mayor’s problem with you? Is he a liberal Republican? A RINO?
ANGLE: Those are your words but I won’t say they are inaccurate.
HE: Did he talk to you beforehand or did he surprise you?
ANGLE: Neither of these are surprises. As you know, when I ran in 2006, I ran as the conservative Republican and Ms. Gibbons ran in the more moderate vain, so that was not a surprise.
HE: But it is different to run as a moderate and then endorse a liberal Democrat.
ANGLE: The issue is that we also have had this problem within our party for years now. Ronald Reagan really set us straight as Reagan Republicans saying we are for lower taxes, less government regulation and that’s what Republicans stand for. It is because we’ve lost that brand in recent years that we have this great movement from the Republican Party into the Independent ranks and that’s one of the reasons because we have sent an unclear message and it’s because of elected officials like this that that unclear message has gone out. Mayor Cashell threw a fundraiser way back at the first of 2009, which he was on the host committee on a fundraiser for Harry Reid—so this was no surprise.
He then backed away because of the ire that arose within the Republican Party in Nevada to have such a thing happen and they called for his censure—the angry Republicans—and so he backed away from that saying that his name on a host committee did not necessarily mean an endorsement. But now he has come out and said that he definitely will be endorsing, so neither one of them surprises and I think that it is more to his detriment than mine to shake his base.
My father always said ‘Dance with the one who brought you’ and since the Republicans brought him there, it seems like he has not fulfilled his end.
HE: Now there are more than $50 trillion in liabilities when it comes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Every time a Republican mentions keeping true to honoring the commitments of seniors, but for people my age, phasing it out or prioritizing it differently where we have more control. Every time a Republican has some sort of plan, Democrats always pounce on that candidate and that proposal. How do we tackle this issue but also be ready for Democrats demagoguery?
ANGLE: My plan has always been to save Social Security for those who have paid in good faith into a lockbox that has an IOU in it. Not what we have been promised for years and years, especially Harry Reid who for 24 years has had an ability to put some money or keep some money in that lockbox and has done nothing about it. So I really believe that on this issue we should be asking Harry Reid why he has raided Social Security. Going forward we need to consider Social Security and Medicare on a personalized basis and the reason that we are moving toward personalization is to keep the government from raiding our retirement, raiding our healthcare. Those are the things that I think are really at issue. We have a system that has neither guarantee nor is it secure and Harry Reid needs to answer to that.
HE: One of the left’s smears is that you are not a fan of alcohol being legalized.
ANGLE: The issue came up from an article that they can’t find the original for so that makes it suspect in the first place. Secondly, in the context of the conversation—and it was with a libertarian group—we were talking about legalization of these things because we can’t fight the war on drugs—that was their premise.
My premise was that we need to be educating rather than legislating. As a less government person, I believe that less regulation, less legislation is always a better policy, so that is what I was referring to – on all levels. As, you know we are a 24-hour state. We deal with the proper use of alcohol all the time and it is an educational issue and we have problems with legislation but it seems to be government’s only answer is to regulate it and legislate it rather than deal with it on an educational level.
HE: Harry Reid says that you have supported massage and sauna treatments for inmates in Nevada. And the position is backed by the Church of Scientology.
ANGLE: This is interesting because first of all, I am Southern Baptist and have been for 35 years. I am not a Scientologist. Secondly, as a legislator, it is my job to make sure that government spends less and to find places where government can cut costs.
The Department of Prisons director and I were looking into a program that cut recidivism from the 65% average to 10%. We both thought that it was worth looking at so I sponsored a trip to be privately funded on a non-legislative working day for any legislator who would like to take a look at a program with these claims for the express purpose of saving the state money.
It was in 2003, a very contentious tax year. The majority leader in my house sought to marginalize me and her effort was to get a cub reporter to make a sensational charge and he did. The trip was canceled. I had put a placeholder for a bill in case after the “take-a-look” journey we decided we wanted to go forward with the program. Nothing ever happened with the bill because it was merely a placeholder and because we didn’t take the trip, because it was sensationalized, the whole thing was dropped.
HE: Can you just say where the Church of Scientology fits in in there? To clear the record.
ANGLE: To clear the record, I am not even sure that the Church of Scientology fits into it at all. You have to make some quantum leaps here. First of all, the program itself had two protocols—this is a multifaceted program—and it had two protocols: one in the area of withdrawals and it was a natural withdrawal system and as you know that can have some severe physical side effects and the cramping that was involved there required that other people be taught how to relive the cramping. That is where it said that people were being massaged.
The second piece was what they called the disintoxification which was actually sweating the drug out so that there were no longer any cravings for the drug and it is a very intense potassium, calcium, vitamin, mineral regimen with this hot rock sauna that sweats the toxins out. Those two protocols were developed by L. Ron Hubbard and they had to give him credit because he developed them. But it’s not Scientology, it is actually natural homeopathic medicine.
HE: What are the three reasons why Harry Reid needs to go come November?
ANGLE: Fourteen percent unemployment in the state of Nevada, the highest foreclosure rate in the nation in Nevada, and the highest rate of bankruptcy in Nevada. That is where people have really held Harry Reid accountable because Harry Reid doesn’t care about their jobs. He doesn’t care that they are having trouble staying in their homes and that’s why Harry Reid needs to be fired.
HE: Do people in Nevada know how radical and left wing his record is? Are you having a hard time conveying that?
ANGLE: Not at all. Harry Reid is well-known. He has well-known issues. He is well-known for the agenda that he has been promoting here and in fact, he calls himself the “Obama whisperer.”
HE: The GOP has always talked a good game about limited government, free enterprise, certainly since Obama has taken office. If you’re elected, are you going to actually move to bring America toward a freer economy and actually restrict and limit the size of government? Talk about what you want to start phasing out, prioritize in spending, really bringing back economic freedom to this country.
Angle: The premise of my whole campaign has been not that people need to believe what I say to them, but they need to look at what I have done. And what I have done in the state of Nevada, I have voted over a 100 times against tax and fee increases, poor public policy and unconstitutional bills. In fact, in 2003, I took a case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend our Constitution and for that I got the Ronald Reagan Freedom Medallion. I have always stood for those principles and it is not just my words, it’s my actions and I don’t intend to change when I come to Washington.
HE: People my age know that they are not going to see Social Security or Medicare. What are you going to do for the younger generation, the next generation to bring more personal responsibility, more personalized when it comes to investments and our own Medicare, medical treatments?
ANGLE: I think that it’s not only you who are young enough that you are concerned about Social Security and Medicare but even senior citizens are very, very concerned because what has happened is we have actually raided—Harry Reid has raided the Social Security trust fund using it for tax and spend programs—more spending programs and more spending agencies in Washington, D.C. He doesn’t care about seniors. He doesn’t care about the next generation and we need to be very thoughtful about saving Social Security and putting money back into that lockbox so that folks can have some kind of guarantee and security about their future that they paid into in good faith.
Going forward, we need to look at personalizing the Social Security and Medicare programs so that we can keep the government out of the lockbox—keep them from raiding our retirement and our healthcare.
HE: What has been the biggest thing that has surprised you thus far since clinching the GOP nomination?
ANGLE: I’m not surprised at all of the attack that Harry Reid is leveling against me. He has to make this an attack on Sharron Angle because everyone knows that Harry Reid doesn’t care. He lives in a penthouse suite in Washington, D.C. He is very detached from Nevada and what Nevada needs. We understand that he is “let’s make a deal Harry” and he is very much out front about the advice to legislators—that if they’re not making a deal then they’re not very good legislators. This is a referendum on Harry Reid and no matter how he tries to make it about Sharron Angle, it will never be so much about Sharron Angle as the failure of Harry Reid to be connected to his constituency, to offer representative government and to think about how we the people are the top of this government, not the bottom.
HE: And lastly, talk about how the Tea Party movement has been influential in your campaign.
ANGLE: The Tea Party movement is we the people who have been taxed enough already. I think that folks forget that this is not an organized effort, it is not an organized protest. What this is, is mothers, fathers, grandparents and what they are saying is: ‘What are we going to pass along to our children? Is it going to be liberty or debt and deficit?’ Harry Reid wants to pass along more debt, more deficit and that is why we know that Harry Reid doesn’t care. I want to pass along that right contract with America which is our Constitution which ensures our liberties.