Cornyn: ‘Solidly Behind’ Angle in Nevada; Won’t Talk Policy with Candidate

By Gregory

Jun 9, 2010 3:53pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Another round of primaries delivered Republicans another candidate who wasn’t the establishment choice in a Senate race, with Sharron Angle capturing the GOP nomination to run against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada.

On ABC/Washington Post’s “Top Line” today, Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said he’s not concerned that some of Angle’s views – she wants to end the Social Security system as we know it, and eliminate the departments of Energy and Education – will be used to portray Republicans as out-of-the-mainstream.

“Nevada voters are going to have a referendum on Harry Reid,” said Cornyn, R-Texas. “Harry Reid's spent $10 million so far in his quest for reelection, after 27 years in Washington, DC. If people want more of the same then I don't think they're going to support the Republican nominee. But if they want change, if they want an effective check and balance on single-party power that's given us runaway spending and debt and a health care plan that is very unpopular in Nevada, then they'll vote for Harry Reid. But my guess is they won't.”

The GOP establishment favored Sue Lowden in yesterday’s Nevada primary. But Republican voters went in a different direction, as they have done already in Kentucky and Utah, and were poised to do in Florida before Gov. Charlie Crist – then the NRSC-backed candidate – bolted the Republican Party and ceded the primary to Marco Rubio.

“We have to respect the right of primary voters to select our nominee. I certainly do, and now that they have spoken, we were solidly behind Sharron Angle and I'm confident that, of course, in the most recent public opinion polls she's actually leading Harry Reid,” Cornyn said. “So I don't think that this is any day for Harry to be giddy or popping champagne corks. I think he's in very deep trouble.”

Cornyn said he hoped to connect with Angle today to offer up NRSC resources to the GOP nominee – but said he wouldn’t be offering policy advice.

“I'm sure we'll be talking to her today. Just as we did in Kentucky and elsewhere, we've reached out to all of our nominees and offered all of our help. Now they may or may not want our help, but we're here if they want it,” Cornyn said.

“We're not going to talk about policy, we're going to talk about do you have the campaign manager that you need, do you have the pollster and — those sorts of things. Winning an election is not rocket science, but it does take some discipline and it does take some organization. That's what we will hope to add value to.”

Despite the instances where tea party activists have upended establishment candidates, Cornyn said the movement has done more good than harm to the GOP.

“I think the tea party movement has been very positive,” he said. “These are people who have not necessarily been involved in organized politics before who've gotten off the couch and they've become energized by the Washington — aggressive Washington agenda of spending and debt. … So I know on the left they'll try to vilify them, they'll try to demonize them, they'll try to suggest that these are people who are fringe characters. But these are mainstream Americans who want to take their country back, and I say they're welcome certainly to work with us to do that in the Republican Party.”

On the new sanctions approved today by the United Nations Security Council, Cornyn said: “I wish I was optimistic. I think it's a step in the right direction, but I think they're so many loopholes in these sanctions that it's not going to be effective to deter Iran from its nuclear ambitions. I think our best bet is to continue to encourage and support the pro-democracy forces within Iran itself, something which I don't think the administration has done very much of and which we need to do more of, to help the people of Iran retake their country from the mullahs and from the extremism that we see represented now.”

Watch the full interview with Sen. John Cornyn HERE.

For our “Post Politics” segment, we checked in with Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post about all of yesterday’s big races – including Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s surprise win in Arkansas, and the two former CEOs who are topping the ticket in California.

Watch the full segment with Karen Tumulty HERE.

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