Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid knows who's to blame for the sickly economy. And it's not him.
In his latest TV ad Tuesday, the Democratic leader says Wall Street, former President George W. Bush, corporate job-cutters and foreign oil prices are the culprits behind the nation's economic troubles. His campaign's 30-second spot answers Republican Sharron Angle, who's been telling voters to punish Reid in November for Nevada's nation-leading unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates.
A narrator asks in disbelief, "Sharron Angle is blaming Harry Reid? Come on."
In coming to his own defense and raising the specter of the Bush years, the ad represents a shift for Reid, whose recent TV commercials have focused on depicting Angle as a conservative extremist who opposes abortion in all instances and would dismantle Social Security and the Department of Education.
The ad begins by trying to put distance between Reid and the feeble economy, but ends by revisiting his familiar theme. Angle, a tea party favorite, has "extreme ideas that will make things worse," it says.
Angle spokesman Jarrod Agen said in a statement that Reid has either "lost his mind" or needs to be reminded of his responsibilities in Washington.
It's "delusional for Harry Reid to claim ... that the Senate majority leader has nothing to do with the economy," Agen said. "Voters will reject Sen. Reid's cop out that everyone else is to blame except him."
Reid, seeking a fifth term, has never been a widely beloved figure in his home state. He readily acknowledges he's in a difficult race in a year when voters are anxious about jobs and mortgage payments and looking askance at incumbents. Polls show the Nevada contest is a dead heat.
The use of Bush's image and references to Wall Street suggest Reid is eager to deflect suggestions that he should be held responsible on election day for the condition of the economy. On visits to the state, he has told voters he knows they are hurting but that conditions are gradually improving.
Democrats are bracing for losses in Congress — the president's party nearly always loses seats during the first midterm elections of a presidency. But Republicans hope voters weary of the sluggish economy will hand them control of the House and, possibly, the Senate.
Reid, President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress are defending billions of dollars in stimulus spending and asking voters to stick with their plans to put America back to work. "This is a choice between the policies that led us into the mess or the policies that are leading out of the mess," Obama said in July in Las Vegas.
Reid began airing the ad on a day when he promoted green job growth at a conference in Las Vegas. Among her economic plans, Angle has said she wants to cut taxes and federal spending and make Nevada into a center for nuclear waste reprocessing.
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