Tom Foreman | BIO
(CNN) - If you want to rope and tie a western politico these days, perhaps nothing works faster than suggesting he or she is extending a big "Howdy, Pardner," to illegal immigrants. That is what Republican Sharron Angle has done in her latest attack ad aimed at Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid.
"Illegals sneaking across our border putting Americans' safety and jobs at risk," the announcer begins over black and white video of people creeping in the night, "and what does Harry Reid do? He comes out opposed to Arizona's tough new immigration law. Nevada families struggling with the nation's highest unemployment. Harry Reid? He votes to give special tax breaks to illegal aliens and to give illegals Social Security benefits even for the time they were here illegally. Harry Reid: The best friend an illegal alien every had."
That's a rough ride, as they say in rodeo. But how much is beef and how much is bull?
The ad is correct when it says Sen. Reid opposed the Arizona immigration law that created such a stir. It does not mention, however, he also joined with other Democrats in proposing their own federal legislation to increase the number of border patrol guards, add resources for chasing down drug runners and human traffickers, and provide more help for courts to process all the cases.
Nevada does, as the Angle ad claims, have the nation's highest unemployment. In July it was 14.3 percent. But saying Reid voted for special tax breaks for illegal immigrants is going out on a ledge. In 2006, Reid voted to table an amendment from Nevada's Republican senator (which, pretty much means it's done for) that would have prevented illegal immigrants from collecting tax refunds owed to them for work they did while here illegally. But that was not exactly a tax break.
And did he really want to give illegal immigrants Social Security benefits even for the time they were here illegally? That's a stretch. In 2006 he supported legislation in the Senate (which died in the House) that would give Social Security benefits (including back payments) to illegal immigrants once they applied for citizenship and paid fines and taxes. He also introduced a measure to strictly forbid any Social Security payments to those who remained in illegal status.
The Reid camp has branded this ad a bunch of "crazy talk" and "lies." The Angle campaign stands by it, and says Reid is "delusionally denying any responsibility for his actions."
We say the cherry-picked mix of facts and omissions may be standard political fare in Nevada, but it lands on our Sliding Scale of Truth between It's a Stretch and a plain old Tall Tale.
Earlier: Did Sestak vote to gut Medicare?
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