Thomas Jefferson: Too Conservative for Dems?

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Nevada Republican Sharron Angle has waged a strange and sometimes controversial campaign against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whom she trails slightly in polls. The conservative Angle, who has been championed by Tea Party movement leaders and by GOP officials eager to unseat Reid, made an unusual statement in a rare interview with the New York Times' Adam Nagourney. Angle insists that Thomas Jefferson, the agnostic civil-libertarian founding father who said that "banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies," was a conservative just like herself. He was so conservative, she suggests, that the Democratic Party, which was founded in 1828, two years after Jefferson's death, accused him of being too far to the right.

In the interview -- which came as she has been criticized by Republicans for avoiding the Nevada press, and as Washington Republicans have nudged her to retool her campaign -- Ms. Angle said she was in step with most Nevada voters and dismissed Mr. Reid's contention that she was too conservative.

"I'm sure that they probably said that about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and Benjamin Franklin," she said. "And truly, when you look at the Constitution and our founding fathers and their writings, the things that made this country great, you might draw those conclusions: That they were conservative. They were fiscally conservative and socially conservative."

It's unclear how Jefferson, not to mention George Washington and Ben Franklin, would feel about Angle's belief that entitlement programs like social security should be abolished for violating "the first commandment."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.