It was supposed to be a spirited, yet civil, Nevada Senatorial debate at a local Lutheran high school between Sharron Angle and Harry Reid. But the pol's supporters instead took center stage during a debate that ended up resembling a ring-side pay-per-view event.
"Nevada Senate Forum Turns Raucous, Ends in Fist Fight," was the headline in National Review. "Brawl erupts at Reid, Angle election forum," read a Las Vegas paper. The local Fox affiliate said that "it wasn't just the candidates exchanging jabs."
But however one describes it, what happened at the end of the Reid, Angle Senate debate was surprising. According to NR's Elizabeth Crum, the crowd was mostly "respectful and fairly reserved" while Reid answered questions via pre-taped video (he did not physically attend the debate). But after Reid finished, the real fireworks began. Crum, who attended the event, explains what happened:
That changed once Angle appeared. Most of the 800-member audience jumped to their feet, half of them cheering, half loudly booing as she and the moderator took the stage. Even once all were seated and Angle began to speak, many in the crowd were quite boisterous and some became increasingly bold and uncivil as the event continued.
Angle was repeatedly shouted at as she tried to answer questions. Scornful remarks, sarcastic questions, and accusations including “Liar!” were shouted by Reid partisans. The moderator politely asked for order, twice, but it had little effect on the more raucous members of the crowd.
At one point, the moderator admonished the audience and said shouting and applause cut into Angle’s speaking time. A few people then deliberately continued clapping and making comments to prevent Angle from saying anything. To her credit, Angle stayed composed and continued speaking even when as many as 30 or 40 audience members were shouting all at once.
As Angle was giving her closing statements, some Reid supporters stood up and began to leave. An Angle and Reid supporter exchanged angry remarks which drew in others and led to a punch being thrown. This led to a shouting match as witnesses on both sides argued about the situation, and two security guards pushed through the small crowd in order to break up the situation.
All attendees were asked not to applaud or shout for either candidate -- a direction that was reportedly ignored to some extent by both sides.
"He punched me twice, so I punched him back twice," Kay Mehta -- a possible victim -- told the Las Vegas Review Journal as she nursed a red, tearing eye and waited for police to arrive. "I was just defending myself."
No arrests were made at the time.