Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle used a decoy to dodge members of the press at an event on Monday, a reporter on the scene tells the Huffington Post.
The Tea Party-backed pol, who has avoided public appearances since offering racially insensitive remarks to a group of Hispanic students, left reporters waiting at an event at a Microsoft Licensing office for nearly two hours (between the time she showed up late until they realized that she had actually left). Getting out of the building without being noticed, however, was tricky. According to Mackenzie Warren, a morning reporter for Reno's NBC-affiliate, KRNV, a staffer for Angle's campaign suckered the press by making it appear that she would be leaving the front entrance (the one she initially entered) while she was, instead, exiting through a side door.
We were standing on the sidewalk and there were one of three buildings, so we called to make sure we were at the right building. Sharron Angle was supposed to show up at 10:30 a.m. to do the work place visit and it wasn't until a few minutes past 11 a.m. that she finally did. I was staking out another entrance when she did arrive but all everyone got was a 15-second view of her being walked in. People were asking: 'Are you going to talk to us?' But she just walked straight in.
I came around to the front and we waited for nearly two hours. And the security guard was being very strict, not letting us step foot in the parking lot. Then a different car came up, not the one she arrived in, an SUV. it pulled into the front and her entourage was there, maybe 10 of people, a lot of people from her camp. And one of the guys from her camp got on her cell phone and very audibly said, 'Hello, O.K., Is she ready? Is she coming down now? O.K. we are out here.'
So then, of course everyone starts rolling. And then shortly thereafter, two women come out and get in the car. It threw us for a quick second and neither of them were Sharron Angle.
A little later, I went over to the side entrance again to stake that out. We waited for a little while longer. At that point I convinced the security guard that I had to go to the bathroom and he let me in. I ran into the lady in the bathroom, asked her about the speech and asked her if she was still here. She said no, she left. 'Out the front door?' I asked. And she said no.
Jarrod Agen, a spokesman for the Angle campaign, told the Huffington Post that it was a matter of tight scheduling that forced her to quickly leave the event.
"It was a private meeting with Microsoft, which we were running late for, then we had to hit the road for a meet and greet in Lake Tahoe, which we were also late for," said Agen.
Warren's account was confirmed by local press write-ups as well as another Nevada reporter who, while not on the scene, had a colleague who was.
Whether the campaign deliberately misled the press to believe that Angle would be leaving the Microsoft building from the entrance they were covering will undoubtedly be disputed in the days ahead. Warren, however, noted that the staffer who spoke into the cell phone did so at a volume level that seemed deliberately loud. "One of the very few things audible was that phone call," she said.
Perhaps more importantly is the continued perception that the Nevada Republican is ducking questions, running out the clock on the election in hopes that the tough coverage she risks doesn't carry over into worsening impressions among voters.
"It is frustrating," admitted Warren. "As a reporter, as someone whose job it is to get the answers to the public it is so difficult."