Bill Clinton stumps for Reid in Vegas

The 2010 election brought scores of tea party-backed candidates into Washington.
By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 13, 2010; 9:40 AM

LAS VEGAS Former president Bill Clinton urged a raucous crowd of activist Democrats on Tuesday night to mobilize support for embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, telling them: "He's been good for you."

And he warned the crowd that, if elected, Reid challenger Sharron Angle would be very, very bad.

Despite Reid's legislative clout, the veteran lawmaker is locked in a tight reelection battle with Angle, a tea-party-backed conservative who blames President Obama and the Democratic leadership for a recession that has proven particularly brutal for Nevada.

"He's been treated to this unbelievable abuse," Clinton said of Reid. But he cautioned Silver State voters not to cast their ballots in anger.

"I am old enough to tell you, if you forget about politics, any time in your life you make an important decision when you're mad, there's an 80 percent chance you're going to make a mistake," Clinton said. "I don't want people to abandon their anger. I want them to channel it so they can think clearly."

With less than three weeks to go before midterm elections, Clinton is barnstorming the country to rally the Democratic faithful as states begin early voting. Polls open in Nevada on Saturday.

Tuesday's crowd of several thousand booed and hissed as Clinton portrayed a scorched-earth Republican fiscal agenda of tax breaks for the wealthy and deep spending reductions to vital government programs, including "massive cuts for air traffic controllers. Who gets to decide which airports are unsafe? Maybe Sharron Angle will volunteer Vegas."

He ticked off food safety, college aid and teacher jobs as similarly vulnerable. "It would be unbelievably negligent to say, 'I know you're right, but I'm just too mad. I've got to vote for this woman - this woman who doesn't want women to have mammograms in their health insurance policies. Who thinks autism is sort of a flaky, made-up deal,' " Clinton said.

Angle has said she is opposed to government-imposed mandates for health coverage, whether for cancer screenings or brain disorders. "A lot of people you know are going to vote that way unless you tell them this," Clinton warned the crowd.

Reid sat on a stool near the podium as Clinton spoke, beaming at the accolades and the Angle zingers. The senator has kept a low profile on the campaign trail but is expected to hit the gas on Saturday, when early voting starts.

With polls showing the race in a dead heat, Reid and Angle will meet Thursday for their only debate.

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