(h/t The Reid Report)
If this audio weren't so amazing, I wouldn't subject you to the crummy quality. Despite my best efforts to clean it up, it's difficult listening. If you can, listen to the whole thing. If not, at least listen to the last 10 minutes. You won't regret it.
I disagree with just about everything Scott Ashjian stands for, but one thing: We both despise the Tea Party Express. Ashjian despises them because they've gone above and beyond the call of duty in their effort to destroy him. I despise them because they are nothing more than a Republican party front group to funnel money to ultra-conservative TeaBirchers (as John Amato likes to say). During the primaries, the Tea Party Express put a lot of money into Sharron Angle's campaign as well as a horribly defamatory campaign against Ashjian and harassing lawsuits to try and force him off the November ballot.
Sharron Angle owes the Tea Party Express (and Sue Lowden) her primary victory. But Scott Ashjian doesn't owe her anything, and this conversation between Angle, Ashjian and their campaign managers puts everything right on the line. At 27 minutes, we hear that is "the moment of truth" for Ashjian, where he can support Angle "as a person" as someone who represents what "we want to accomplish." Ashjian's response? No endorsement for the Republican party. But it's not personal, really. Angle and her campaign manager are straight up with Ashjian in their final try: If he quits the race, Angle will "be able to do so much for [Ashjian]" from Washington DC. Her "juice" will be his "juice". Yes, she really says that.
She also has a few things to say about the Republican Party, including an arrogant declaration that she has them "in a box", giving her the power to access anyone she wants because of their desperation to remove Reid from office.
However, the most remarkable exchange is in the last 10 minutes, when Angle tells him that if he stays on the ballot, Reid will win. But, she says, if he drops his place on the ballot, she will be able to help him advance his Tea Party agenda. Ashjian makes clear his goal is the Senate seat as a true independent grassroots candidate, that he only planned for one term, and he has no intention of merging with the Republican party.
It's a remarkable bit of horsetrading for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it represents EXACTLY what Darrell Issa went off about over Joe Sestak, except he had no evidence. It is a clear quid pro quo: Ashjian drops off the ballot; Angle rewards him with political "juice". This is the same guy they called "Harry Reid's mole." Keep in mind, this is a guy polling at 1% in the general election.
But beyond the effort to try and entice Ashjian into surrender, there's an arrogance and cynicism about Angle and her manager that just play as big as life. Despite her demure demeanor, she is relentless in her pursuit of Ashjian and her promises to make him a political success.
I don't think Scott Ashjian is any saint or really even much of a grassroots guy. But the fact is, he's entitled to be on the ballot and not be intimidated off. He might have an ego the size of Nevada, but so does every politician who runs for office. Angle's running scared, and rightly so.