After a month of being on the defensive, U.S. Senate candidate Sue Lowden on Friday released a new TV ad slamming U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and her GOP primary opponents for "lies and dirty tricks" and mocking her for saying people can barter with doctors.
The Democratic Party and Reid's re-election campaign have made endless fun of Lowden for defending her bartering comments by saying that in the old days people even traded chickens for health care. Videos lampooning Lowden have been riding the talk show and Internet circuits since she first suggested bartering during a town hall meeting in Mesquite.
In her new 30-second spot, Lowden takes on Reid and her closest GOP rival, Danny Tarkanian, who has been criticizing her for donating to Reid's Democratic campaigns during the 1980s.
"Why are Harry Reid and my opponents attacking me?" Lowden asks in the ad. "Because my conservative ideas are a threat to career politicians like them. They want to make this about chickens and checks -- a check I wrote decades ago and a statement they've taken out of context."
The Reid campaign jumped on Lowden's contention her remarks were taken out of context, saying she clearly suggested people could save money by bartering with doctors. She repeated the idea while defending her bartering comments during an interview on a Northern Nevada news program.
"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,' " Lowden said on the program. "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."
Her words "were not taken out of context," said Kelly Steele, communications director for Reid's re-election campaign, who sent out a press release accusing Lowden of a "bald-faced lie."
"It's pretty interesting, and by that I mean pathetic, that a month after the fact, they would resort to lying about what they said after her campaign has spiraled out of control," Steele said in an interview.
Lowden remains the GOP front-runner in the crowded Republican field. Recent polls show the race has tightened ahead of the June 8 primary although she still leads Tarkanian by double digits.
In the ad, Lowden, a former TV news anchor, stands between television sets showing shifting images of Reid, Tarkanian and bits from an attack ad paid for by a Democratic Party front group which shows people making fun of Lowden's bartering remarks.
"That's what's wrong with Washington -- lies and dirty tricks. It's time we pulled the plug on these boys," Lowden says in the ad, then she unplugs the TVs, ending the spot with a big smile.
Jamie Fisfis, a Tarkanian campaign consultant, dismissed Lowden's attempt to go after her critics and opponents, saying she "is basically blaming others for her own political blunders."
"She mismanaged Nevada's 2008 Republican campaign effort, and now she's the one who yanked the plug on her own embarrassingly bad U.S. Senate campaign with her remarks on health care," Fisfis said, referring to Lowden's three-year stint as chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party.
Tarkanian has scolded Lowden for contributing at least $1,000 five times each to Reid's House and Senate campaigns in the 1980s, saying she helped put him in power. Lowden has defended her support for Reid, arguing he used to work for Nevada, but has since changed.
"She claims she wants to run on her record, but her record includes helping Harry Reid defeat Republicans," Fisfis said. "Those are her own actions. She has no one to blame but herself."
Lowden, a casino executive and former state senator, sent out copies of her new TV ad in a fundraising appeal to supporters, asking for money to keep the commercial on the air.
Her campaign said the ad would air statewide for "as long as necessary."
"My opponents, Harry Reid, big union bosses and the Washington establishment are hard at work distorting my record and trying to defeat me with the same old tired playbook they dust off every time they are down," Lowden writes in the fundraising appeal. "But I'm not afraid of their false attacks and scare tactics. Their attacks only strengthen my resolve."