Running from the Press: The Curious Case of Sharron Angle

If one wants to be a US Senator, one is going to have to learn to talk to the press.

Via the NYTIn Nevada, Running for Senate and From Cameras

Ms. Angle, a Nevada Senate candidate and Tea Party darling, has steadfastly refused to talk to reporters here, leading to some unusually aggressive behavior by local television stations. In a segment fit for TMZ, one intrepid reporter chased her on foot outside a restaurant this month, repeatedly asking why she had once said that “if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.” She ignored the questioner and tried to outpace him, in a video clip replayed across the state.


Ms. Angle’s campaign strategy — if it is indeed a strategy; a spokesman did not respond to a request for comment — is representative of a pick-and-choose media landscape. Since the primary victory, she has showed up on Fox News and sat down with several conservative radio hosts, including Bill Manders of KOH, the dominant talk station in Reno. “She answers every question I ask her,” Mr. Manders said, although he said he had advised her to give more interviews.

Of course, what this approach does is allow contact with voters who are already likely to be your supporters in the first place.  Focusing on conservative media during the primary makes sense, doing so in general election campaign does not.

Angle may believe that the poor economy and Harry Reid’s low popularity numbers will be enough to propel her to victory in November, but I have my doubts that such a strategy will work if she essentially avoids broad press exposure between now and November.

The whole point of running for office is that one puts one’s ideas out to the public for them to decide which candidate’s ideas they prefer.  If one is afraid that exposure will lead to less voters liking one’s candidacy, then that strikes me a rather serious problem for said candidate.

And this is not just someone avoiding “gotcha journalism” or cleverly eschewing the mainstream press via some new media campaign strategy.  This very much appears to be a candidate who isn’t ready for prime time and knows that she is going to have a very hard time defending her own statements to a more mainstream audience.

As I have noted before:  Sharron Angle is the best thing that could have happened to Harry Reid.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Herb says:

    Yep, more of Angle’s insincerity/insecurity problem on display. She says things she doesn’t really mean (the “2nd amendment solution” crap) and then seeks out only friendly media outlets. Insincere and insecure.

    Which places her right in the middle of Mainstream Tea Party America.

  2. Wayne says:

    She needs to rely on a teleprompter which she doesn’t vary from, give speeches and prepared choreograph question and answer sessions. It worked for Obama and he is still doing it.

  3. sam says:

    I read that some TV station in Vegas has a nightly feature where they beg her for an interview. That can’t be good…

  4. Liandro says:

    Maybe she figures she has time. Reid’s numbers aren’t going up at all, so all Angle has to do is run out the clock and little bit, then finish strong. This also gets her more time to pull her base voters together for a move unified start (although one would think Reid’s unpopularity does this for her?) and shore up her own team. And, if I am being slightly cynical, it gives her time to get prepped for the big-time.

    Presumably this sort of strategy means closing strong, and it means avoiding a “weak candidate” narrative. Her timetable seems to being running out on narrative, though, so I agree that she needs to make a move soon–at least with the local media down there. These stories need to be put to bed, or she’ll never been able to turn the focus on Reid.

  5. mantis says:

    Well, when even doing extremely friendly interviews with rightwing radio hosts, Angle says stuff like:

    MANDERS: So, in other words, rape and incest would not be something?

    ANGLE: You know, I’m a Christian, and I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives and that he can intercede in all kinds of situations and we need to have a little faith in many things.

    you know you’ve got a problem. What will she say when she finally answers a tough question?

    But remember, God has a plan. Rape is the work of God. So says Sharron Angle.

  6. Pete says:

    Steven, your perspective is based on an illusory news environment and presumes these candidates are seasoned debaters and policy experts. The Tea Party is made up of people who have ignored politics, have eschewed politics, have presumed better behavior from politicians and are not seasoned enough to take the obvious biased questions from a hostile press. Yes, they will have to get there if we want some good people in DC, but this is like putting up a single A batter against Stephen Strasburg. Give her some time to build a defense against a liberal, hostile press; then judge her answers.

  7. Give her some time to build a defense against a liberal, hostile press; then judge her answers.

    She is a major party nominee for a seat in the US Senate. She’s already playing in the bigs and the notion that she is only now going to start learning how to articulate her ideas strikes me problematic.

    Beyond that, I honestly think that part of her problem is that she knows some of her answers and ideas may not fly with the electorate–which is likewise problematic.

  8. Pete says:

    I don’t disagree with you, but why play her cards early? Perhaps she has few cards to play. I have such disrespect for the press to be fair that I have little problem with her current position towards the press. She is allegedly not that strong a candidate so why stick her jaw out front for the likely uppercut? Major party? Sure, but Reid dominates the debate because of his record. It can’t be changed. Best strategy is to remain coy until closer to election.