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January 29, 2015

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They said it and they meant it — really

Senate contenders’ comments dissected

Leno on Lowden

Sue Lowden

Sue Lowden

Harry Reid

Harry Reid

Sun Coverage

The U.S. Senate race is sure to be long and entertaining, if this week is any guide.

Both Republican front-runner Sue Lowden, a wealthy casino owner, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are making life easy for each other’s press shops.

A Republican operative not involved in the race summed up the situation: “This is like watching two golfers double-bogey every hole at the Masters,” he said. “It’s hard to watch, but someone has to win, so you keep watching.”

First, the challenger.

Lowden, a former Republican state senator, was recently the subject of late-night humor after saying health care costs would be lowered if consumers paid with cash and bargained down prices with health providers. She called it “bartering,” a term normally referring to a trade of one good or service for another.

Lowden defended her remarks Monday on the “Nevada Newsmakers” TV show.

“You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor, they would say I’ll paint your house,” she said. “I mean, that’s the old days of what people would do to get health care with your doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I’m not backing down from that system.”

The Reid campaign, which has for months focused its attacks on Lowden, sent out a statement with the subject line: “Has Sue Lowden Lost her Mind?”

The Republican operative laughed heartily when the quote was read to him.

Democrats, continuing a stunt that has gotten them some mileage, planned on showing up with a live chicken at a UNLV College Republicans meeting Tuesday where Lowden was to accept the group’s endorsement.

Reid was not to be outdone, however.

Nevada’s senior senator has been leading Democrats’ effort to reform regulation of Wall Street banks and other financial institutions. In response to threatened Republican obstruction, Reid launched an attack on GOP leaders for secretly meeting with Wall Street executives to plot strategy to water down the legislation.

The only problem is that Reid is no stranger to Wall Street, having been there Jan. 14 for a breakfast fundraiser, where he raised $37,000, including some from the recently vilified Goldman Sachs employees.

CNN’s Dana Bash tried to ask him about it.

Here’s Reid’s response: “First of all, everything that we have done in this legislation is about as transparent as it can be. I think that it’s pretty clear that I’m leading the effort to rein in Wall Street. So I’m going to make sure that in this legislation, I do everything within my ability to make sure that banks aren’t too big to fail.”

Bash tried to follow up about the fundraiser, but Reid wouldn’t have it.

“Thanks, everybody,” he said, before turning and walking away.

Reid’s aides had no explanation as to why he didn’t simply acknowledge attending the fundraiser and note that he still planned to vote against Wall Street despite the campaign cash.

As legendary California Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh put it: “If you can’t drink a lobbyist’s whiskey, take his money, sleep with his women and still vote against him in the morning, you don’t belong in politics.”

Sun Washington Bureau reporter Lisa Mascaro contributed to this story.

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