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Assemblyman Hansen jokes Alzheimer victims are ‘Harry Reid supporters’

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, joked during a Reno radio appearance with lieutenant governor candidate Sue Lowden that victims of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s diseases must be “Harry Reid supporters.”

Hansen made the remark Tuesday on KNEZ 107.3 while Lowden was talking about how Las Vegas could attract medical tourism.

Lowden appeared to be referring to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, which opened in Las Vegas in 2010.

“We have the Alzheimer’s clinic in Las Vegas now – some of the best equipment in the world for brain injuries.” Lowden said. “And not only Alzheimer’s, but Parkinson’s disease, ALS,” she added, referring to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Hansen interrupted her, saying, “Harry Reid supporters.”

Lowden made a noise like a guffaw, but then kept talking.

“And we have. I’ve seen people come internationally from all over,” Lowden said.

Hansen said in an interview Wednesday that he was referring to “Republicans for Reid,” who backed the U.S. senator during his 2010 re-election over Republican Sharron Angle. Lowden lost the GOP primary to Angle after Reid’s camp targeted her for defeat during the primary. Hansen said that he and Lowden were talking about the group during a break in the radio show.

“I’m specifically targeting those people,” Hansen said. “Should I have said it? Probably not. But the thought that I’m going out of my way to offend people — I’m not. I did mean to offend the Republicans for Reid.”

Hansen said Reid hasn’t served Nevada well. The state gets back about 65 cents for every $1 the state contributes to the federal government, for example.

Lowden’s campaign manager Tom Letizia said she’s focused on the election.

“Sue is out there talking about THIS campaign,” Letizia said in an email. “She is focused on medical tourism and the great benefits this will bring to our state.”

“Ira had already said he ‘didn’t mean to offend anyone.’ Sue is not going to comment on what this person or that person said about this or that, in issues non-related to this campaign.”

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