As members of Congress across the country try to distance themselves from Washington by burnishing their "outsider" credentials, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is doing just the opposite -- he's embracing his incumbency as he seeks re-election in Nevada.
After Republicans selected Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle last week to run against Reid, the Senate's No. 1 Democrat is trying to make the case back home that experience is good, and that his clout in the nation's capital is what brings jobs and funding to Nevada.
"No one can do more," is Reid's new campaign slogan, unveiled in a pair of ads that tout his record securing funding for alternative energy sector jobs.
The strategy is undoubtedly risky in an election year when upstart candidates like Angle are surging on the crest of the Tea Party movement and incumbents are generally trying to downplay their establishment ties.
While Reid, who has served in Congress since 1983, has decided to play to his decades of experience, all Republicans see is a bigger target.
"It's an interesting strategy to brag about bringing jobs to your state when you have 13.7 percent unemployment," said Brian Walsh, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The nationwide unemployment rate is 9.7 percent.
Walsh said he wouldn't argue with the new slogan.
"No one has done more to increase the role of the federal government or raise taxes on Nevada families," he said.
The NRSC released a web ad focused on Reid's experience, only from a different perspective. The ad is called "Harry Reid: Decades of Epic Fail."
A group called American Crossroads also just released an ad billed as a response to Reid's "no one can do more" message.
"Harry Reid's work is paying off all right -- paying off for his friends in Washington but leaving Nevada with what?" the narrator says, citing the state's high unemployment rate.
The narratives are being set as the general election gets under way following a close Republican primary. Angle, a former state assemblywoman, came away the winner in that race on Tuesday after trailing her opponents for months.
Reid and Democratic strategists immediately set about to casting Angle as a "wacky" fringe candidate.
"It's this season's hottest new trend: Republicans nominating candidates so far to the right, they're practically falling off the map," Reid's campaign said on its blog after Angle won.
Reid's campaign on Monday dismissed the GOP criticism aimed at the "no one can do more" message. Spokesman Kelly Steele said Reid has created thousands of jobs by bringing clean-energy firms to the state and secured millions of dollars to help residents stay in their homes, suggesting that's more than Angle can say.
"This is nothing more than Republicans attempting to change the subject from the dangerous, extreme agenda of their accidental candidate, Sharron Angle -- who wants to eliminate Social Security and Medicare, pull the U.S. out of the U.N., give massages to prisoners, and deregulate Wall Street and the big oil companies responsible for the crisis in the Gulf. By contrast, Sen. Reid delivers meaningful results for Nevada families every day," he said in a statement.
Though Democrats claimed to be delighted at Angle's win, a Rasmussen survey taken one day after the primary showed her leading Reid 50-39 percent.
Angle, in an interview Monday with Fox News, said "mainstream Americans" are questioning Reid, and she used harsh words to assail the very record Reid is touting.
"The problem is Harry Reid. He's had 24 years to do something for Americans, and he hasn't done it," she said. "In fact he has pretty much waterboarded our economy for the last year and a half."
She said the state's high rate of unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcy stand as a testament to Reid's ineffectiveness.
"Harry Reid has truly failed and we're saying, 'Harry Reid, you're fired,'" she said. Angle disputed the claim that she wants to eliminate Social Security and Medicare, saying she wants to "personalize" them.
Reid, his $9 million campaign war chest and his high-profile supporters see things differently. A stump speech last week by former President Bill Clinton showed that Reid's campaign would be rejecting the argument that years in Washington make politicians go stale.
"Why would you give away the Senate majority leader who has delivered time and time again?" Clinton said at the rally Thursday night.