LAS VEGAS — Sen. John McCain delivered a rousing endorsement Friday of Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle and urged cheering supporters to send her to Washington as part of a historic turnaround in Washington power.
A confident-sounding Angle, locked in a tight race with Majority Leader Harry Reid, predicted “there is going to be shock and awe in Washington” on Nov. 3, the day after the election.
“We need to take back our economy,” she said. “It’s our government and it’s our money.”
McCain, the 2008 presidential nominee, told the crowd at a Las Vegas casino that the “election will change America. The world is watching.
“Sharron brings hope and Sharron brings action,” he said after embracing the former Reno legislator on stage, with an oversized American flag draped behind them.
McCain’s appearance was intended to bolster Angle’s credibility, particularly with moderates, in a campaign in which Reid has relentlessly attacked her as a fringe conservative unfit for office. A succession of speakers, including actor and conservative activist Jon Voight, said her election would help turn back two years of Democratic policies that had damaged the nation’s standing at home and abroad.
The invited crowd cheered, “Dump Harry Reid.”
Across town, Reid was targeting Filipinos, the second largest foreign-born group in Nevada, at a crowded rally with popular Filipino boxer and congressman Manny Pacquiao.
Reid and Pacquiao entered the room to chants of “Manny, Manny.” In a brief speech, Pacquiao endorsed Reid in his native Tagalog.
Reid, a former boxer, denounced Angle’s conservative views, her criticism of Social Security, Wall Street regulation and public health care for veterans.
“Both Manny and I learned it is not enough to fight for yourself, we could do that, we could always do that,” Reid said.
Reid urged voters to go to an adjacent mall and cast their ballot.
“Vote tonight,” he said. “I need your support.”
The dueling events underscored the high stakes and its importance nationally: Reid, the face of Democratic power is Washington, is struggling to win a fifth term against a tea party star whose campaign was broke and fading earlier this year. The race has been shaped by the state’s devastated economy: Nevada leads the nation is unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies.
Reid, meanwhile, launched a new TV ad labeling Angle “pathological,” one in a months-long series of harsh advertisements from both sides.
Earlier Friday, the final day of early voting in the state, Angle sidestepped questions from TV reporters who tracked her to the airport, the latest evidence of a strategy to mostly stay away from the media in the dead-heat race with Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“I will answer those questions when I am the senator,” she told reporters from CBS and NBC affiliates who surprised her with questions about national security and unemployment at McCarran International Airport.
Pressed further on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Angle added, “The two wars that we are in right now are exactly what we are in.”
The brief encounter came as a new poll found the candidates neck-and-neck in the scalding contest that will be crucial in the fight for control of the Senate.
Angle’s campaign said it would ban the stations from covering her election night party in Las Vegas because its reporters and camera crews acted like “paparazzi” at the airport.
But Nevada Republican Party spokesman Jahan Wilcox said later the disagreement with the stations was being resolved: “I honestly believe everyone will be there on election night,” he said.
The poll conducted for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and KLAS-TV 8NewsNow found Angle had 49 percent to 45 percent for Reid. The four-point difference remains within the poll’s margin of error, making the race a dead heat. Three percent said they’re still undecided, 1 percent said they support someone else and 2 percent said they want none of the above, an option on the Nevada ballot.
The telephone survey of 625 Nevada voters was conducted this week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington, D.C.
Since a debate two weeks ago, Angle has made only a handful of public appearances and her interaction with the media has become virtually nonexistent. Her campaign says she spends much of her time going door to door in rural Nevada or attending private fundraisers.
Reid has left virtually no demographic untapped, meeting with gay Democrats, hosting a rally with former President Bill Clinton in an African-American neighborhood, releasing Spanish-language ads aimed at Hispanics and visiting businesses in Las Vegas’ thriving Chinatown.
Kurt Torneskog and his Filipino wife, Maria, turned out for Pacquiao, not politics.
“I don’t like the way the country has been going for the past two years,” said Torneskog, a conservative Republican who voted for John McCain in 2008. “Harry Reid is too old, he’s got old views that are out-of-date.”
He said he hopes Angle can help turn around the economy.
“Mostly, she’s the alternative,” he said.
Anilyn Plateros, 36, from Reno, is one of the coveted undecided voters Reid and Angle have been courting. Plateros, an independent, said she was leaning toward voting for Reid because of his Washington influence.
“He is the Senate majority leader,” she said. “We can’t replace that.”
But Plateros said she would not mind an Angle victory.
“She’s very aggressive. I like women who are aggressive,” Plateros said. “I would like to see a woman in office.”