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Sharron Angle recasts position on public benefits

Cristina Silva

In a dramatic shift, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle said Saturday she wouldn't work to privatize Veterans Affairs, dismantle Social Security or dismiss unemployment benefits as welfare.

Angle addressed some, but not all, of the many political attacks against her in an interview with a conservative radio show host before a crowd of supporters in Las Vegas.

During the wide-ranging chat, Angle distanced herself from her previous comments on government benefits.

For example, she had said Veterans Affairs should move toward a privatized system and not cover prescription drugs; cited Chile's privatized Social Security program as a model for the United States; and called for reduced unemployment benefits.

Angle on Saturday denied she had called for the end of the VA.

"What I said was we could do better," she said.

But when a reporter asked Angle in May whether the VA should cover her father's $800 monthly prescription bill, she said: "No, not if you're working toward a privatized system."

Angle, a tea party favorite, is in a tight race against Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

In another slight change Saturday, Angle said of unemployment: "We pay into it, so in some respects, it is an insurance policy that we bought into with our paychecks." She described it previously as a "system of entitlement."

The Associated Press