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In campaign's closing hours, a relaxed Harry Reid hands out handshakes, hugs and doughnuts

'We feel comfortable where we are,' the Senate majority leader says of his hard-fought contest with Republican Sharron Angle.

November 02, 2010|By Ashley Powers, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Las Vegas — As Nevadans streamed to the polls Tuesday morning, Sen. Harry Reid gave handshakes and hugs to volunteers phone-banking in a Las Vegas campaign office, which was down the street from an apartment complex touting its "Recession Special!"

The embattled Democrat was notably relaxed, considering his battle with Republican Sharron Angle has been so filled with mud-slinging that a radio station Tuesday dubbed the pair "Dirty Harry" and "Psycho Sharron."

Dressed in a button-down shirt and khaki pants, Reid joked about being scheduled to serve the volunteers doughnuts, a box of which had been opened in a different room. While in high school, Reid said, he worked part of the year at a Henderson, Nev., bakery glazing baked goods.

"Even today, I can't stand the smell of doughnuts," he said to laughter.

Reid told reporters -- who outnumbered volunteers -- that his team estimated nearly two-thirds of ballots had been cast in two weeks of early voting, during which he'd done "extremely well." He also bragged about his "second-to-none" turnout operation, whose effectiveness will likely determine the razor-close race. (Indeed, the office lobby had a poster labeled "getting out the vote to victory." A drawing of a thermometer had been colored in just below a line marked "800 shifts.")

"We feel comfortable where we are," Reid said, a sentiment he's repeated often in recent days, even as public polls showed Angle gaining momentum. Reid, who's been endorsed by numerous GOP rainmakers, said he'd likely peeled off support from moderate Republicans alarmed at Angle's conservative "tea party" beliefs.

"They don't want a Republican Party with her brand on it," he said, but instead coveted GOP leaders in line with Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush.

A comic strip riffing on "Peanuts" taped to the office wall -- called "It's A Tough Election, Harry Reid" -- summed up what the Reid considered the race's "clear choice" between the powerful Senate majority leader and a Republican prone to lightning-rod statements. Reid was portrayed as Charlie Brown and Angle as Lucy.

"Harry Reid, stop being lazy like the unemployed and try to kick this football," Angle says.

Unlike Charlie Brown, Reid nails the kick. "Good grief, you're a terrible candidate," he says.

ashley.powers@latimes.com

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