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Sharron Angle backers greeting new attacks with yawns

It was no secret that Sen. Harry Reid (R-Nev.) wanted former state legislator Sharron Angle to be his Republican opponent in November. Yesterday, Paul Kane previewed some of Reid's openings against Angle. Today, organizations like Media Matters Action are shopping some of Angle's old quotes and stances, and Sam Stein offers up more "gleaned through basic research on Angle's interviews with various local publications."

The response of conservatives who helped push Angle to victory? Bring it on.

"You could characterize the mood around here as one big yawn," said Mike Connolly, spokesman for the Club for Growth, which spent more than $400,000 on TV ads for Angle. "We know Sharron Angle pretty well. A lot of folks around here have worked with her. We've endorsed her in the past. This tactic is neither new nor surprising."

Asked about a 1999 article in which Angle criticized water flouridation, something Democrats are passing around today to define the candidate as a kook out of "Dr. Strangelove," Connolly expressed only a little surprise.

"I hadn't heard the flouride thing before," he said, "but this is what they have, this is what their campaign is going to be -- digging around in things she's said and taking them out of context. And the polls haven't moved for Harry Reid. He's been a dead man walking, politically, for months."

Sal Russo, whose Tea Party Express endorsed Angle when no one was taking her campaign seriously, compared Reid's strategy to the strategy Gov. Pat Brown (D-Ca.) used against Ronald Reagan in 1966, when the actor was making his first bid for office.

"Brown helped Reagan behind the scenes by spreading around damaging information about George Christopher, the mayor of San Francisco, who Brown thought was going to a bigger threat in the general election," Russo said. "He learned that you should be careful what you wish for."

Russo said that TPE knew that Angle's record and statements would be combed over by Reid, because "Reid can't win if the election's about him." But he argued that the blah nature of the first attacks on Angle proved that Democrats weren't ready for her.

"They had multiple volumes of books on Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian," said Russo. "They probably had a sheet of paper on Angle. That's why you're seeing stale stuff, because I don't think they were ready for her."

I'm hearing the same from other Republicans. The Reid assault on Angle was telegraphed weeks ago -- Rand Paul primed the pump for reporters to look for "crazy" candidates, so if she avoids brand new gaffes this week, they're not sweating it.

By David Weigel  |  June 9, 2010; 12:13 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
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