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Angle urges Nevada candidate to pull out, criticizes Republicans

By Kevin Bohn, CNN
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Secret recording rattles Nevada race
  • Angle and incumbent Sen. Harry Reid are in a neck-and-neck race
  • Polls show Ashjia running third with up to 5 percent support
  • Angle says GOP leaders "have lost their principles"

Washington (CNN) -- Nevada GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle urged third party candidate Scott Ashjian to pull out of the race at a meeting last week, saying his campaign could result in re-election for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, according to an audio tape of the meeting recorded by Ashjian.

During the session, she offered Ashjian access to several Republican Senators and "whatever juice I have" to help persuade him.

"Anything I can deliver personally I am glad to," Angle told Ashjian,who is running as a Tea Party candidate, during the Wednesday night meeting.

Angle said she and Ashjian share the same views of why the current political system is broken, but told him the best way for her to achieve her goals was to run as a Republican.

Ashjian, who has fought off several court battles to take him off the ballot, is vowing he is in the race to stay. Polls last month showed the race between Reid and Angle a dead heat with Ashjian pulling up to 5 percent support, depending on the survey.

An audio tape of the meeting, however, also captures Angle criticizing the Republican Party for lacking standards and principles.

Video: Tea Party's Angle challenges Reid

Republican Party leaders "have lost their principles" Angle said during the session, adding they only are reluctantly supporting her after defeating the favored candidate in the June primary.

"We have them in a box," because she upset the favored candidate, she told Ashjian.

She said when she went to Washington, D.C. after her primary win party leaders were still "moaning and groaning and weeping and gnashing teeth" and said she told them "I am what you got."

The tape, often times grainy, of was leaked to political journalist Jon Ralston, which he included in an article published in Sunday's edition of the Las Vegas Sun.

Ashjian, who confirmed the authenticity of the tape to CNN Sunday night, said he had decided to record the session in case there were misrepresentations in the press. He decided to leak it after he got upset with some of the initial portrayals of the meeting and an earlier phone conversation with a lawyer for Angle, which he said was condescending to him.

During Wednesday's meeting, Angle complimented the political novice Ashjian, who has drawn the scorn of state Republicans as well as local Tea Party activists, for his campaign efforts. She told him she was sorry for some of the treatment he had received, including death threats and lawsuits.

Her representatives at the meeting promised Ashjian he would have access to Angle, if she was elected, to help him in his goal of shaking up the two party system.

During the session, Ashjian particularly pushed Angle for an apology from the Tea Party Express, a group which had vigorously campaigned for Angle during the Republican primary and which had harshly criticized Ashjian as not a true representative of the Tea Party.

She responded saying because of election laws she could not contact the group before the election but promised after the voting was over she would get him one. "I can get you an apology after the election," she told him. "We can go together."

"She offered me political juice," he said. "I could have pretty much what I wanted."

While complimenting Angle as a nice person, he said her offers to him are exactly what is wrong with today's politics.

"She has given up her principles for the election," Ashjian said.

"Sharron expressed what many working families in Nevada and across the country are feeling," a statement from Angle campaign spokesman Jarrod Agen said. "They are angry with Harry Reid. They are angry with Washington, D.C., and they want blunt plain-spoken leaders who are willing to shake things up."

Reid's campaign Sunday blasted the quotes from the recorded session.