Democrat Sen. Harry Reid and his Republican challenger Sharron Angle squared off in their only debate of the election Thursday night in Nevada.
Angle’s responses were what you would expect from a conservative candidate. Reid’s answers were disjointed and evasive.
When moderator Mitch Fox, host of “Nevada Week in Review” on PBS, asked about statements he made during the Iraq war, Reid’s answer was incomprehensible.
“Senator Reid, you were quoted as saying the following, ‘The war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence’ end quote. Do you believe that your statements demoralized the troops and were inaccurate?” Fox asked.
“I first met Gen. Petraeus in Iraq. The statement that I made following Gen. Petraeus saying the war cannot be won militarily,” Reid responded. “He said and I said the war can only be won militarily, economically and diplomatically. That’s why after I made my statement and Gen. Petraeus made his statements we did the surge then and not later. And it was the right thing to do. The surge worked because we brought in the economy working with the Sunnis. We worked with diplomacy and that’s how we got the Sunni awakening, fighting all the people who were causing all of the trouble. Gen. Petraeus has done a good job. He’s my friend and I’m glad he’s in Afghanistan.”
And that was one of Reid’s better answers.
“When you said this war is lost and said that Gen. Petraeus was dishonest, that emboldened our enemies, demoralized our troops and endangered them, and you need to apologize to them, Senator,” Angle told Reid in response.
Reid ignored her jabs and said he supports the troops.
Fox asked several “yes or no” questions all of which Reid failed to answer.
When asked how they would vote on the question of making English the official language of the United States, Angle answered she would vote “Yes” while Reid incorrectly answered, “English already is the official language.”
When asked if Obamacare should provide federal dollars to pay for abortion, Angle answered “No” and Reid repeatedly said the Hyde Amendment is already the law of the land, never answering the question. (The Hyde Amendment is part of the annual Department of Health and Human Services budget barring federal funding for abortion through budget outlays. It must be renewed each year. The amendment does not bar federal funding of abortion through Obamacare insurance exchanges.)
Fox asked both candidates if it was the government’s job to create jobs.
“My job is to create the policies to encourage the private sector to do what they do best, and that is creating jobs,” Angle said.
Reid responded that through his tax policies he’s saved over 31,000 jobs in Nevada alone, never quite explaining exactly where or how. “My job is to create jobs,” Reid said. “My opponent is extreme.”
Angle shot back, “Harry Reid, it’s not your job to create jobs. It’s your job to create confidence to get the private sector to create jobs.”
Angle said Obamacare and other policies enacted under Reid’s Senate leadership have caused uncertainty that has cost American jobs.
When asked of the recent California court ruling against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy barring gays from serving openly in the military, Angle scored points scorching Reid for trying to include a repeal of DADT in the Defense authorization bill right before the election recess.
“She doesn’t understand what went on in Washington and the bill to do away with ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” Reid said. “The Senate legislation didn’t say get rid of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ but the secretary of Defense would have to certify it would do no harm to our troops only after the Department of Defense report came down.”
The military is currently performing a review to make formal recommendations on the issue that has not yet been completed. Reid forced the DADT repeal amendment into the authorization bill anyway, killing the funding bill.
“That’s the wrong way to make law,” Angle quipped, saying lawmakers should read the military assessment before writing any law on the matter.
The highlight of the evening came toward the end when Angle tripped up Reid with a question about his personal finances.
“You came from Searchlight to the Senate with very little,” Angle said to Reid. “Now you’re one of the richest men in the U.S. Senate. On behalf of Nevada taxpayers, I’d like to know—we’d like to know—how did you become so wealthy on the government payroll?”
“That’s a really low blow,” a stammering Reid responded. “I think everyone knows I was a very successful lawyer. I did very good at investing. I’ve been on a fixed income since I went to Washington. I’ve lived off what I made in the private sector.”
“That I made money being a senator is false,” Reid added, saying he was really “disappointed” that “she would ask that.”
Reid has had ethical questions most recently surrounding $1.1 million dollars he made off of a questionable land deal.
According to Associated Press reports, Reid’s fortunes increased substantially after he went to Washington.
“Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid collected a $1.1 million windfall on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn’t personally owned the property for three years, property deeds show,” the AP reported.
The complex dealings allowed Reid to transfer ownership, legal liability and some tax consequences to a friend’s company without public knowledge, but still collect a seven-figure payoff nearly three years later, the report said.
“Reid hung up the phone when questioned about the deal during an AP interview,” the wire service reported.
Much more can be found in the report at the link.
When asked about the delaying the decision on tax increases sought by Democrats until after the election, Reid said his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell agreed with him that they needed to wait until after the election to decide whether or not to raise taxes on the wealthy in a recession.
“Mitch McConnell and I don’t agree on everything but we agree on one thing, we need to wait until we get back after the elections to find out what the economy’s going to be,” Reid said. “I guarantee everyone there will be no tax increase for middle-class America. We have to see what we are told by the experts what we should do with the people who make more than that.”
Angle said she supports extending the current tax rates for everyone, including small business owners.
The debate lasted an hour in a PBS television studio with no general audience in attendance.