Andrea Mitchell on Thursday made no secret of the contempt she held for a new ad Republican Sharron Angle is running in Nevada, deriding it as "beyond the pale." The MSNBC host announced that so many people are "outraged" over the campaign spot she slammed as a "Halloween show."
The commercial, which the senatorial nominee just began airing, features images of illegal immigrants crossing the border and complains about Harry Reid record. Mitchell, interviewing the Washington Post's Dan Balz, fretted, "A lot of people say that this is the closest thing we have this year to a Willie Horton or the Jesse Helms white hands ad from that North Carolina race back in the day."
Video after the break.
The comparison to Helms is not surprising as Mitchell openly attacked the then-Senator back in the early '90s. On November 6, 1990, election night, she lamented the North Carolina conservative's reelection: "This has really been a heart-breaking race....What happened here was a very strong racial message from Jesse Helms in the closing ten days of the race and it focused on something that we've found, found previously in Louisiana with the David Duke campaign."
On Thursday, Mitchell played a clip of the Angle spot and scolded, "I mean, it looks like a Halloween show. It is just beyond the pale by most lights." Perhaps getting to her real concern, the journalist worried, "Is it going to work?"
A transcript of the October 28 segment, which aired at 1:02pm EDT, follows:
ANDREA MITCHELL: In Nevada, Sharron Angle sparks outrage among Hispanics and others with her latest attack on illegal immigration.
ANGLE AD: Waves of illegal aliens streaming across our border, forcing families to live in fear. And what's Harry Reid doing about it?
MITCHELL: Has she gone too far?
MITCHELL: And in Nevada, the Tea Party Sharron Angle has a slight edge over Harry Reid as she rolls out a controversial closing ad. Dan Balz is national political reporter for the Washington Post and joins us today. Let's talk about the ad in Nevada. A lot of people say that this is the closest thing we have this year to a Willie Horton or the Jesse Helms white hands ad from that North Carolina race back in the day. What is your assessment of this kind of attack and this kind of racial appeal this close to the election?
DAN BALZ (Washington Post): It's a very- as you suggest, it's a very controversial ad but I also think that it says that Sharron Angle has decided the strongest message she has in the final days is back to the issue of illegal immigration, which we have seen in a number of cycles is a very volatile issue and particularly in areas of the Rocky Mountains and southwest. And she has gone back to that in these closing days in an effort to try to pull this race out.
MITCHELL: Let's take a look at the ad itself and why so many people are outraged over it.
ANGLE AD [Video of illegal immigrants appear onscreen.] Waves of illegal aliens streaming across our border, joining violent gangs, forcing families to live in fear. And what is Harry Reid doing about it voting to give them Social Security benefits, tax breaks and college tuition. Voting against declaring English our national language twice.
MITCHELL: I mean, it looks like a Halloween show. It is just beyond the pale by most lights. Rachel Maddow was in Nevada and asked Harry Reid about it and you won't be surprised by his reaction. Rachel tried her best to get to Sharron Angle but, of course, Sharron Angle wasn't having anything.
HARRY REID: All she does is cause people to be afraid. There's no reason to be afraid. We've got to work our way through the issue. She has not issued one positive statement, one constructive statement about what we do with the issue of immigration. It's something we have to fix and we're willing to do that. But we can't do it with people like her demagoging the issue. And now they are passing out literature in areas heavily Hispanic saying don't vote. That's about as un-American as you can get.
RACHEL MADDOW: Now, was that- in the television advertisements which I'm aware of, that was not a Sharron Angle campaign effort, but you think she had something to do with it?
REID: But, wouldn't you think that something as negative and irresponsible and unpatriotic as that, wouldn't you think somebody would denounce it? She has never said a single word, it's wrong what they are doing. She's in the background urging them on I'm certain.
MITCHELL: Is it going to work?
BALZ: Well, I don't know whether it's going to work. We know this is one of closest races in the country. We know there's about as much outside money has poured into that as anywhere as well as money in her campaign coffers. It is not clear who has a real edge at this point. When you talk to people about that race, they think the Reid operation has a pretty good turnout organization they can employ. We don't know how effective hers will be but we know she has Tea Party enthusiasm. I think this race goes right down to the wire.