Chickens, a goat and Jay Leno jokes, oh my.
The U.S. Senate campaign has come to this: barnyard humor over health care.
Where to begin.
In case you missed it on YouTube, Sue Lowden was talking about health care in Mesquite in early April and suggested people could cut costs by making a cash deal with their doctors.
"I think that bartering is really good. Those doctors who take cash, you can barter and that would get prices down in a hurry," Lowden said in the video taken by a Democrat operative who follows the GOP front-runner on the campaign trail in hopes of catching a gaffe. "And I would say go ahead out and pay cash for whatever your medical needs are. And go ahead and barter with your doctor."
The Democratic Party and Sen. Harry Reid's campaign had a lot of fun spreading the video around and making light of Lowden, who like most Republicans opposes the law that requires Americans to get medical insurance. GOP critics say it's a federal government takeover of health care.
Then Leno picked up on it, making it part of his "Tonight Show" monologue last week. He introduced the bit by saying, "I love this story," and misspelling Lowden's name, saying, "I think it's L-O-D-E-N."
"She's a Republican who's running for the Senate in Nevada," Leno continued. "You know this health care thing. The Republicans are against it. She says one of the ways you can keep the costs of your health care down is to barter with your doctor. You know trade with him."
Then Leno delivered the laugh line.
"That's a great idea, but what if your doctor's not Amish, OK? What do you do then?"
The Reid camp got giddy with it and blasted the Leno YouTube moment around the Internet.
"Now Lowden's health care bartering scheme -- aka 'Chickens for Checkups' -- has made her the butt of late-night TV jokes, as featured on last night's Jay Leno show," the Reid campaign's communications director Kelly Steele said in an e-mail that provided a link to the Leno spot.
Then the Democratic Party piled on.
This is where one goat and four chickens came into play.
Phoebe Sweet, communications director for the Nevada State Democratic Party, and a few of her barnyard friends who shall remain nameless stopped by Lowden's campaign headquarters.
"I tried to trade this goat for some health care, and my doctor looked at me like I'm crazy," Sweet told a receptionist as she carried the 25-pound goat into the headquarters with a local TV crew tracking her. "So I was just curious if you had any information on her barter plan."
"No, thank you," the unidentified receptionist said politely.
"No information?" Sweet asked just as politely.
"No information, thank you," the receptionist said again.
Sweet gave up. "OK," she said with a shrug to the TV camera. "I guess they won't take our goat."
The goat and four chickens, by the way, were provided by Reid supporters, said Sweet, who had to borrow a campaign staffer's truck to help carry out her animal stunt. "You'd be surprised at how much room livestock takes. And I'm not exactly a goat wrangler."
The Lowden campaign made light of the whole thing. "Too bad Harry Reid and his political hacks aren't as quick in creating jobs for Nevadans as they are in coming up with barnyard animals," Lowden campaign manager Robert Uithoven said. "We've always been curious what they do at the Democrat headquarters. Now we have a hint."
Expect a tv political ad blitz
Mark your calendars for April 26, and be ready to turn off the TV or push the mute button if you don't like campaign commercials. That's when ad rates will go down in Nevada, and when the primary election media push is set to go way up, according to U.S. Senate campaign strategists.
With early voting starting May 22 and the primary election set for June 8, those who want to take on Reid in the fall general election will make their last, best case to voters with an expected TV blitz.
Lowden already has spent more than $500,000 in TV and radio ads, which gave her an early boost to the top. She'll likely hit the air again .
You'll see a lot more TV ad action from the other leading GOP contenders from now on, too, including from Las Vegas businessman and former University of Nevada, Las Vegas basketball star Danny Tarkanian, who's hoping for an end game burst after slipping behind Lowden.
Former Reno Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, who just won the Tea Party Express endorsement, will get much-needed help from the national group, which plans to start airing ads on her behalf April 26-27.
The Tea Party Express put out its first explicit fundraising plea for Angle over the weekend, asking for donations to raise $100,000 to kick off its ad campaign for her. "We need your help to secure victory," the request said, suggesting people give whatever they can afford, from $5 to the maximum allowed, $5,000.
The Tea Party can't coordinate with Angle under campaign finance laws and will likely focus mostly on defeating Reid, its No. 1 target in 2010.
New York investment banker John Chachas, an Ely native who recently launched TV and radio ads, has more in the works and plans to spend heavily.
Las Vegas Assemblyman Chad Christensen has been talking with media buyers about going up with TV ads for the first time to boost his long-shot bid to win the GOP nomination.
What about the tenor of the ads? Most insiders are predicting sharper spots mostly aimed at the current GOP front-runner Lowden.
Contact Laura Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2919.