In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with The Brody File, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Sharron Angle is not “mainstream for Nevada”, takes on his critics and offers a new reason for his low approval numbers.
I spoke with Senator Reid in Las Vegas Nevada this past weekend. We conducted the interview at a local restaurant that recently hired some new employees because of the HIRE act passed by Congress. (The Reid campaign came up with the location for the interview. When I heard they wanted to do it at a restaurant, I was all for it since The Brody File loves food.)
You can watch a few of the video clips below (along with transcriptions). Also, click here to watch my report from Monday's "The 700 Club."
So what are the highlights of the interview?
This is the first time he has really commented directly about Sharron Angle and her policy positions and statements. His campaign and the DNC have been the “heavy” but for the first time Senator Reid spoke up about how, “she’s not mainstream for Nevada or probably most any other place in America.”
One of the more interesting tidbits during the interview was when Senator Reid mentioned how his low approval numbers may be due in part to how he now needs to re-introduce himself to the 600,000 people that have moved to Nevada since his last tough election that took place 12 years ago. He didn’t JUST blame his low approval numbers on the economy. He added this new factor to the equation. Essentially he’s saying that those folks need to get to know him better.
Senator Reid defended the new laws that have been branded “big government liberal projects “(like healthcare reform, Wall Street reform, etc) and believes they will actually resonate with Independents. I ask him about the fact that polls show more than half of Nevadans say they want healthcare reform repealed. His answer is in the last clip.
In addition, when asked about the rise in the Nevada unemployment rate he essentially blamed the Bush administration for digging that hole to begin with. As for whether he needs to own up to any personal responsibility for what has gone on economically in Nevada, his response was quite interesting. He basically is arguing that if you’re going to give him the blame for the bad economy, does that mean he gets credit for when the economy is going well? His point is that you can’t pin the bad Nevada economy on what he individually did or didn’t do.
He also says he isn’t going to criticize Sharron Angle if she feels it is God’s “calling” to run against him.
I'm sure you'll have your favorite highlight. Maybe it's where he talks about prayer, or the power of Harry Reid or that he is not a name-caller.
My full 5 minute profile piece on Senator Reid’s bid for re-election will air on The 700 Club next Thursday August 5th.
A short report with a few video clips will air on The 700 Club today Monday July 26th.
My full 5 minute profile on Sharron Angle airs this Friday July 30th on The 700 Club.
Finally, (for those scoring at home) The Brody File gained 2.3 pounds over the weekend in Nevada. Oy-gevalt! I need to “fast”
On the state of the Nevada economy:
David Brody: What can you do as the Majority Leader to turn this thing around in Nevada?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “For 20 years Nevada was the poster child of a good economy. If you want a good job come to Las Vegas. If you wanted to invest in real estate come to any place in Nevada that’s good. You want to start a small business come to Nevada. Well, with what happened on Wall Street it cut the legs out of Nevada. It ruined our housing market and our employment market but we’re doing better but that’s little comfort to somebody that’s lost their job, afraid they’re going to lose their job, they have a house they’re now upside down in so we have a long ways to go but we’re gonna get there.” (This is just a partial transcription. For the full answer watch the video)
On the critics who say he's to blame for the higher unemployment rate in Nevada:
David Brody: How do you respond to the critics because you say we’re getting better and then the unemployment rate has increased since the time that you’ve been in that Majority Leader position. This is what Sharron Angle is saying in some of her ads. What is the response to something like that?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “The last six months that George Bush was President 3 million jobs were lost. The first month that Barack Obama was President 800,000 jobs. Because of what took place in the prior administration it started several years ago the bottom has fallen out of the real estate market and lots of other things. Remember the so-called TARP came during the George Bush administration. We’re trying to save banks in America today. That was a George Bush plan. I worked with Secretary Paulsen a lot to get that done so I say to everybody It was the policies of the prior administration. We're trying to dig our way out of that. The hole that we found when this Congress started and Barack Obama found when this Congress started was a pretty deep hole. We're digging out of it but it took awhile to develop the hole and we're not going to get out of it overnight."
Is he taking any personal responsibility for what has happened to the economy in Nevada?
David Brody: When it comes to personal responsibility regarding the economic woes of this state, you mentioned the Bush administration, are you taking any responsibility as a U.S. Senator for what has happened because Sharron Angle has said that a U.S. Senator’s job is not to create jobs so I’m wondering where you are at on this exactly?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "Well, I smile a little bit because does that mean the many years I’ve been in Congress I get an A+ because the economy was doing so well? Was that because of what I did and the fact that the last year it hasn’t been doing very well, last year and a half, does that mean I have an A+ in all this, about a C or C- here to still come out to get an A? The point is I’ve done a lot of things to help job here and will continue.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “The healthcare bill is going to create thousands and thousands of jobs. What we did with Wall Street reform is going to create lots of jobs. “
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “I have a responsibility to do what I can to stimulate the economy. That’s my job. I’ve always done that. That’s why during the last Congress they added up the other day and because of things that I did there’s about 700-800 million dollars I brought to the state of Nevada.”
On why his approval numbers are low:
David Brody: What about approval numbers? I’m curious about this because the media, especially inside the beltway you see it all the time they love to talk about your low approval numbers and that you’ve got this ceiling and that for an incumbent they’re low. When you hear all of that talk what goes through your mind and do you chalk it up totally to the economy or are there other factors involved?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “I understand how people feel. As I’ve said it doesn’t give them comfort to tell them things could be worse but for me. They’re in the here and now and I understand how they feel. Unemployment numbers are significant. In the construction industry 50 percent of the construction workers don’t have jobs so we have entities that are laying people off, we have teachers and we are struggling to get a lot of that done. But I also say this:"...
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “I don’t grin but I do smile just a little bit because you can’t go anyplace in America today that people’s approval ratings are very high. We have an economic situation that’s not only in Nevada. It’s all over the country and also we have a unique situation in Nevada. I haven’t had a difficult election for 12 years. During that 12 year period of time we’ve had 600,000 new people move to the state of Nevada. They don’t know me but they’ve seen that during a lot of this last number of years me is me trying to fight with George Bush because he’s trying to privatize social security or arguing about the war in Iraq and other policies of his. I thought that all the red ink was bad and I complained about that so people are going to have to get to know me, the 600,000 people who are now here who I am, a moderate kind of guy. That’s how I got elected so I feel comfortable where I am. I have a campaign that’s moving along just fine. I feel comfortable where we are today."
On Sharron Angle's positions:
David Brody: “People out there want to paint her, this campaign has wanted to paint her as an extremist. They haven’t used that word extremist but they have definitely suggested that. Is she an extremist in your view?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “Well, I’m not going to be calling her a name. I’ve never met Sharron Angle that I remember. Anyone in Nevada that wants nuclear waste to come to Yucca Mountain is not in the mainline of what Nevadans want. Anyone that wants to do away with the Department of Energy which has done so much for this state. They’re in charge of the test site. We have the BP oil spill now. Anyone who wants to get rid of social security, privatize it they’re not in the mainstream of Nevada."
David Brody: She says she doesn’t want to do that exactly. She’s walked that back.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "Well of course she has said that time and time again, time and time again that she wants to privatize social security. She can walk it back all she wants but you have her speaking on camera saying that. I’m glad if she’s walked back away from it. That’s good. For her to call the people who are unemployed spoiled. That’s really I don’t think where we are in Nevada so if they want to call her an extremist that’s up to them. I’m not a name caller.”
David Brody: OK, so just so I understand with the labels on Sharron Angle, you’re not going to start calling her an extremist or anything but it would be fair to say that you believe her positions are out of the mainstream.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "I think that what I have seen her say what I have watched her say what I have read what she has said she’s not mainstream for Nevada or probably most any other place in America.”
On his reaction to when Angle beat Lowden in the GOP Primary:
David Brody: The conventional wisdom in the media is that Lowden didn’t win, Angle won and so Harry Reid is smiling beyond belief because this is going to be easier for him to beat Angle than it would be Lowden. When you read those stories what did you think?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "Well, it’s nice that people think I’m this all-powerful guy that I, Harry Reid can determine who’s going to win the Republican primary. I didn’t have anything to do with that. I don’t vote in the Republican primary. “(This is just a partial transcription. For the full answer watch the video)
His Reaction to Angle saying that it is God's "calling" to take him on:
David Brody: I did an interview with Sharron Angle ten days ago and she mentioned how it was her “calling” to take you on. She didn’t say it was her “calling” to beat you. She just said it was her “calling” by God to take you on. The media has beat her up pretty good about that. You have said in the past that you really can’t separate someone’s politics from their religion. It is who they are. Do you believe the media needs to back off in this area because it seems like that she is a conservative Christian woman and when she says things like this the media does typically attack and I’m wondering to get your opinion on that.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “To me religion is extremely important but extremely private. I don’t think I would surprise you or probably your listeners to note that I pray more than once a day but they’re private prayers between me and my God. I have a wonderful family. We do the best we can to live our religion of being fair, the Golden Rule. But I’m not very good at talking publicly about my religion. So if Sharron Angle feels that way I’m the last person in the world to ever criticize her for thinking that she is called of God to run against me. If she believes that that’s something that’s between her and her God.”
Will healthcare law come back to haunt him and Democrats in the midterms?
David Brody: “There’s been a lot of talk about this being a center-right nation and that out of this Congress comes what many call big government liberal laws and therefore this has been a problem for Democrats. What is your take on something like that?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "25% of the country is liberal. 25% of the country is really conservative. That means 50% are kind of in between and I think those are the being who are kind of the silent majority that Nixon used to talk about. These are the people that ultimately make the decisions and what we’ve done are things that have been badly needed in this country for a long time. How could we not do Wall Street reform? How could we not do healthcare reform? It was something that was long overdue. Both those issues had we not done we would have bankrupt our country so I think as has been seen in the polls around the country now the majority of Americans support healthcare reform. The talk about repealing healthcare just won’t go anyplace so I think everything’s been necessary. It’s been good and our country is better for having passed this legislation."
David Brody: There’s over 50% of the people in Nevada that there are these polls out there that they want to repeal healthcare. When you hear numbers like that what is the take?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "All the polls around the country including Nevada indicate that when people are presented with do you want to do away with giving 25,000 small businesses in Nevada 35% discount on the healthcare they all say no. Do you want to have Medicare extended for 19 years like we did it? They say yes. You don’t want to repeal that. Do you want to open the donut hole again? They say no so the more people know about healthcare the better they like it.”