ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports:
Scott Ashjian calls himself the “Tea Party of Nevada” candidate for U.S. Senate, but he tells ABC News that he would be “at peace” knowing he helped re-elect Harry Reid by siphoning votes away from Sharron Angle.
I met with Ashjdian in Las Vegas, where the self-described Tea Party candidate he showed up to our interview in his black Mercedes Benz S63 AMG (MSRP $138,000) and spent much of the interviewing explaining why he believes Angle is a worse candidate than Reid.
“At least with Harry Reid, you know what you got,” Ashjidian told ABC News. “As far as competence goes, or maybe, intellect goes, Harry Reid is probably a smarter person than Angle.”
Ashjian may get no more than a percent or two of the vote, but if those votes come from Angle, that could be enough to assure a victory for Reid, who can only win if some of the anti-Reid voters check boxes for third party candidates like Ashjian (there are 6 of them on the ballot) or “none the above.”
That’s why a pro-Reid organization called Patriot Majority is running radio ads now supporting Ashjian.
But Ashjian denies he’s a stalking horse for Reid.
“It could not be farther from the truth,” he says. “I've never voted Democrat in my life. I've never met harry Reid in my life.”
Ashjian claims to be a former Angle supporter, but now calls her a liar.
“Sharron Angle lies on her issues,” Ashjian said. “She's come off 100 percent of where she was in the beginning when I supported her, compared to where she is today. … she's turned into the consummate politician. She's run for the last 15 years in a row as a politician. And, she tells everybody that's she not, but her agenda is something different.”
You can watch my interview with Ashjian HERE and read the transcript below.
JONATHAN KARL: Hey, well thanks a lot. Thanks for taking the time to talk to you. I appreciate it. Why are you in this race?
SCOTT ASHJIAN: Because we have two politicians that lie.
JONATHAN KARL: But, I mean but really? You have no chance of actually winning this thing
SCOTT ASHJIAN: Well, I don't know. Anything could happen with two or three
JONATHAN KARL: (crosstalk)
SCOTT ASHJIAN: And the reality of it is that we've campaigned about the Democrats and Republicans being of the same party. And they, especially Sharron Angle, has lied about her issues. She's come off of every campaign issue that there is. So, she claimed to be conservative in the race in the beginning.
JONATHAN KARL: You're not saying that Sharron Angle's not really conservative, are you?
SCOTT ASHJIAN: I'm saying that Sharron Angle lies on her issues. She's come off 100 percent of where she was in the beginning when I supported her, compared to where she is today. She went to Washington, DC, where you're from, and got schooled on what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. And, at the end of the day she's turned into the consummate politician. She's run for the last 15 years in a row as a politician. And, she tells everybody that's she not, but her agenda is something different.
JONATHAN KARL: Okay, but you now have ads running in your support by the Patriot Majority, which are Harry Reid's supporters. Why are Harry Reid's supporters trying to boost your campaign.
SCOTT ASHJIAN: I don't have anything to do with ad.
JONATHAN KARL: I know you don't but (crosstalk)
SCOTT ASHJIAN: I'm not for Harry Reid. I never have been for Harry Reid. If Harry Reid…
JONATHAN KARL: Doesn't that tell you something if his supporters are trying to gin up support for your campaign?
SCOTT ASHJIAN: It tells me that harry Reid is in trouble and it tells me that Sharron Angle is probably worse. I don't believe the polls. I think the issues that she's campaigning on are issues that hurt the citizens of Nevada. She's a career politician. She's a Republican. Harry Reid is a career politician. He's a Democrat. And, Nevadans going to have a choice between two wrongs or a third choice.
JONATHAN KARL: Ok, let me ask you if you had to take some truth serum here, give me a straight up answer: If you were not running in this race, who would you be voting for?
SCOTT ASHJIAN: Well, if there was nobody else ballot, and, I'm a business man, so, if there was no one else on the ballot and I had a choice between two wrongs, I would pick the best wrong.
JONATHAN KARL: Ok, and which is it in this case?
SCOTT ASHJIAN: You know, all of the major Republicans have come off of or have endorsed Harry Reid. The Senate Majority, or Minority Leader, Bill Raggio, local businessman, high profile Washington, DC person, Sig Rogich. Most of the Republican leadership does not support Sharron Angle because she cannot get a deal done. She's not a negotiator, she's not a deal maker. She will not, um, she is a product of the federal government that she complains against. She's lied about her retirement, her health care, and everything else involved. Harry Reid is Harry Reid. Probably the worst two words in Nevada is Harry Reid.
JONATHAN KARL: But, if you had to, you were pressed, you got to vote for one or the other, it sounds like you're voting for Harry Reid
SCOTT ASHJIAN: I'll make that decision when I get there. I think that as far as competence goes, or maybe, intellect goes, Harry Reid is probably a smarter person than Angle. Angle is, her claim to fame is 41 to Angle. That tells me that she has no ability to get a deal done, by any means. She, well you know, she's approached me, trying to make deals. I wasn't going for it, and then she came back and lied about it.
JONATHAN KARL: So, why did you tape that conversation and why did get …
SCOTT ASHJIAN: Because this may come as a shock to most people that hear the interview, but politicians lie. So, what's been my experience over the last 6 to 8 months is that anytime I've talked to somebody, or had an interview, it never comes out the way that it was. So, it wasn't until after I was approached by another local, or a statewide reported named John Ralston who said that they have you heard this, this, and this, and I said no, but if you want to hear the truth, I sent Gene over to get my tape player, and it is legal in Nevada to record a conversation, so, I said, ‘knock yourself out.’
JONATHAN KARL: So, you're arguing...there are conspiracy theories that say you are basically a front for the Reid organization.
SCOTT ASHJIAN: It could not be farther from the truth. I've never voted Democrat in my life. I've never met harry Reid in my life. I've never..
JONATHAN KARL: How would you feel if you wake up on November 3 and you've helped re-elect Harry Reid?
SCOTT ASHJIAN: I'll feel completely at peace knowing that at least at a minimum I did my part in giving Nevada a third choice.
JONATHAN KARL: Now, you don't look like a Tea Party guy. I mean, what makes you a Tea Party candidate? You’re not the first thing that pops to mind...
SCOTT ASHJIAN: I think a Tea Party candidate is somebody that wants change. I think obviously from the numbers that they're raising and the dollars that it’s coming from somewhere. It's not coming from backyard barbeques.
JONATHAN KARL: Yea. So what makes you a Tea party candidate? Do you want change? Obama wanted change, too, right?
SCOTT ASHJIAN: Well, again he's a politician and he lied. So, they campaign on one thing, like Sharron Angle did, and they do something totally different when they get into office. Obama's problem is he didn't keep his word. At least with Harry Reid, you know what you got. You have a choice this election: Harry Reid, Sharron Angle who's proven to make deals and come off of her policies, or a third choice and to send a message across Nevada. Those are really the choices.
JONATHAN KARL: Alright. Hey, well thanks for taking time to talk to us.
SCOTT ASHJIAN: Thanks, I appreciate it.
JONATHAN KARL: Take care, we'll see what happens.