Challenged On False Ad, Angle Changes The Subject

October 15, 2010 12:57 pm ET — Alan Pyke

In last night's Nevada Senate debate, Sharron Angle (R) was challenged to either renounce or provide evidence for her attack ads claiming Sen. Harry Reid (D) voted for "special tax breaks" and Social Security benefits for illegal immigrants. Angle did neither, choosing instead to simply repeat the charges in the ads — with no evidence whatsoever — and then pivot to the topic of Social Security reform. The charges have been denounced as "false" and "misleading" by the non-partisan, Pulitzer Prize-winning researchers at

For one thing, the vote wouldn't have given current illegals Social Security benefits, as the ad implies. Instead, Reid's votes affected the policy for former illegal aliens who were later made legal. For another, the vote was not about giving benefits but rather on whether to change the calculation process so that former illegals could get credit for money they had paid into the system years before, when they were illegal.

But Sharron Angle can't let a good lie go. Given a chance to respond, Sen. Reid rightly pointed out that "my opponent didn't answer the question." Watch:

Moderator: Would you like to denounce the ad as deceptive, or give voters documented evidence about its accuracy?

ANGLE: Not at all, I'm glad to, uh, give voters the opportunity to see that Harry Reid has voted to give, uh, Social Security to illegal aliens. Not only did he vote to give it to them after they have become citizens, but even before they were- were citizens, he voted to give them the, uh, benefits of our social security. Our Social Security system is one that needs to be addressed, and we're not addressing it. In fact, what we need to do is make sure that we keep our promise to our senior citizens, and make sure that our, uh, younger folks have the opportunity to have a personalized Social Security retirement account...

Moderator: Senator Reid?

REID: Mitch, my opponent didn't answer the question.

Professional politicians celebrate the ability to pivot a conversation away from a subject that hurts them. But Angle's pivot here was insulting to the intelligence of anyone watching this debate. She essentially said, "I'm not going to denounce the ad or prove it's true, but I will repeat the content of the ad. Now, let's talk about something else!" That will only work if Nevadans are suckers.