Angle’s back-room talks go public

ANGLE’S BACK-ROOM TALKS GO PUBLIC…. It hasn’t gotten a whole lot of attention lately, but Nevada’s closely-watched U.S. Senate race is actually a three-way contest. Recent polling shows Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) running neck and neck with extremist Sharron Angle (R), but there’s also a Tea Party of Nevada candidate named Scott Ashjian on the ballot.

Last week, Angle attended a behind-closed-doors chat with Ashjian at the home of a prominent Republican activist. Tea Party of Nevada Chairman Sid James was also there for the discussion, which was apparently focused on Angle trying to push Ashjian to quit.

Unbeknownst to Angle, the meeting was being recorded, and the audio ended up in the hands of Nevada journalist Jon Ralston, who published this report.

At the meeting’s outset, Ashjian seems open to a deal, suggesting if he can get an apology from the Tea Party Express, “we can get on board.” He claims he does not want money, wants the lawsuits about his candidacy to go away — remember those voicemails from GOP lawyer Cleta Mitchell posted elsewhere on my blog suggest she was trying to “settle” something with him. By the end of the meeting, it’s clear this attempted backroom bargain is going nowhere — and I’m not sure Ashjian ever wanted it to.

I wouldn’t say there are any real blockbusters on the recording — Angle’s record of saying insane things is, oddly enough, composed entirely of public remarks — but it is a fascinating peek behind the curtain.

Angle does not, for example, explicitly try to buy Ashjian off, but Angle does suggest she can leverage her Republican contacts to help Ashjian in the future. Specifically, Angle argues that if Ashjian quits and she wins, she’ll have “juice” she’ll share with him. “You want to see [Sen. Jim] DeMint, I have juice with him…. I go to Washington, DC and want to see Jim DeMint, he’s right there for me. I want to see Tom Coburn, he’s right there for me. I want to see Mitch McConnell, he’s there.”

All those complaints about Dems trying to reach back-room deals on Capitol Hill? Angle may want to drop that from her talking points.

We also learn that Angle isn’t exactly confident about the election’s outcome — “I’m not sure I can win” — and that she really isn’t fond of the Republican Party establishment, which she seems to consider far too moderate.

In the bigger picture, it’s probably not the most important revelation, but the one quote from all of this that struck me as the most interesting was Angle reflecting on the kind of hysterically right-wing contingent she intends to create in Washington. She tells Ashjian, for example, that she was “hated” during her tenure in the Nevada State Senate, where her colleagues considered her a loon and she routinely voted on her own. “41 to Angle was not a compliment,” she said.

Angle added, however, that in the U.S. Senate, there’s likely to be a small contingent of extremists. “When I go [to D.C.], there may be five or six of us…. Maybe Joe Miller (Alaska), Ken Buck (Colorado), Christine O’Donnell (Delaware).” She said Florida’s Marco Rubio might even be part of the group.

If I’m the DSCC, I’m running with this in Colorado and Florida.