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Working In These Times

Monday, Oct 4, 2010, 1:15 pm

National Nurses United Jumps Into Nev. Race With Biggest Ever Union Campaign Expenditure

BY Lindsay Beyerstein

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U.S. Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle speaks during the Nevada Republican Party 2010 State Convention at the Green Valley Ranch Station Casino on July 9, 2010 in Henderson, Nev.   (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Calls out Rep. Sharron Angle’s extreme right views in $200,000 TV ad campaign

National Nurses United (NNU), the self-declared "RN Super Union," today kicked off a major ad campaign against Nevada Republican senate candidate Sharron Angle.The $200,000 campaign is the largest ever expenditure on a political race by a single union. The latest polls show Angle in a dead heat with incumbent Harry Reid.

The centerpiece of the NNU's campaign is a set of four 15-second television ads based on the theme of "Wrong Angle." The ads highlight Angle's extreme statements on healthcare, job creation, and education. The visuals push the angle metaphor: A ski jumper wipes out, a house slides off a cliff. These images are juxtaposed with clips of Angle calling for the privatization of Medicare and Social Security, opposing mandatory insurance coverage for pregnant women because "[she's] not going to have any more babies," or asserting that job creation is none of the government's business.

The union hopes the ads, which will air at the beginning and end of popular programs like Oprah and Ellen, will reach hundreds of thousands of Nevadans during the next two weeks. NNU's Donna Smith says ads are targeted to reach voters sympathetic to the nurses' values of caring, compassion and community—particularly female voters. "Women are super important in this election," Smith says. "Nurses are keying into women's issues, which are also patient issues."

Angel Kennedy, a registered nurse, is a pediatric intensive care nurse and a NNU representative in Reno. She says Angle's rhetoric offends her as a nurse and as a mother. She finds Angle's views on autism particularly troubling. Angle is opposed to mandatory insurance coverage for autism treatments. Kennedy has seen firsthand how important early intervention is for autistic children.

NNU plans to keep hitting Angle on abortion in the weeks ahead. Angle has pledged to vote against abortion in all cases. The candidate said that pregnant rape victims should "make lemonade out of lemons" and bear their attackers' children. Kennedy points out that, if Angle got her way, some rape and incest victims would have to give birth while still children themselves.

Meanwhile, Reid has been running his own TV spots highlighting Angle's statements on healthcare mandates. One has stirred up a bit of trouble because apparently Angle's actual legislative record isn't nearly as anti-mandate as she has portrayed it on the campaign trail earlier this year. This has led to the bizarre spectacle of Angle's campaign attacking Reid for running ads highlighting Angle's own statements that aren't true.

As the Las Vegas Sun reported Saturday:

An exhaustive search of Angle's record as a four-term state legislator turns up no legislation to repeal the dozens of state mandates requiring insurers to cover such things as mammograms, osteoporosis and autism and several experimental cancer treatments.

Yet during her time in the Legislature, Angle proposed no fewer than five laws that would have required insurance companies to cover specific conditions, undermining her persona as an ideologically pure conservative who relentlessly pursues limited government policies.

Either Angle actually opposes health insurance mandates for things like mammograms, or she is opportunistically pretending she does to take advantage of conservative voters angry about healthcare reform legislation passed this year.

Whichever the case, Kennedy and Smith are hopeful that NNU's four short but hard-hitting ads will help carry Nevada for Reid in November.


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Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times' City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (http://www.hillmanfoundation.org/hillmanblog), a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.

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