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Now a Blue Dog Democrat gets caught talking chickens for checkups!

Chickens for checkups is back! Only this time, the culprit isn't a Republican. It's a Blue Dog Democrat -- Rep. Ben Chandler of Kentucky.

Chandler is disliked on the left for his opposition to health reform, and this might not help matters: In a conversation with a constituent, Chandler appeared to talk approvingly about bartering chickens for health care.

In an interesting twist, I'm told that Republicans are going to make an issue of it to paint him as out of touch and clueless about health policy. Chandler faces a challenge from Kentucky attorney Andy Barr, and national Republicans view the seat as one of their top pickup opportunities.

Chandler's chickens-for-checkup moment took place in a meeting with constituents in November 2009, and was captured on video by someone present at the meeting.

In the exchange, a woman who identifies herself as a farmer objects to health reform, noting that when she was young, her family didn't have insurance and paid their own way when it came to medical care -- and that this is how it should be.

"They didn't have any kind of health insurance, they went to the doctor, and we paid for the call," the woman tells Chandler. Whereupon he nodded and replied:

"When you didn't have money, you gave him a chicken. You could barter if you didn't have enough money."

Now, this isn't quite Sue Lowden territory. As you'll recall, Lowden endorsed chickens-for-checkups as an appropriate policy response to soaring health care costs. But Chandler -- who, again, voted against health reform -- did seem to cite the idea of bartering chickens for checkups in an approving tone, as if it represented a real salt-of-the-earth alternative to having insurance.

The Chandler campaign dismissed the significance of this, sending me a statement: "Yes, and of course before we had electricity, people burned oil lamps. Before we had automobiles, people used horse transport."

But Republicans plan to pounce on this as proof of Chandler's unseriousness, and they're curious to see whether it will gain anywhere near the traction that Lowden's chickens-for-checkups tale did.

It seems everyone wants a piece of that chickens-for-checkups magic!

UPDATE, 3:37 p.m.: The Chandler campaign sends over another statement clarifying what he meant:

"Congressman Chandler was noting a rural historical practice first raised in conversation by a constituent. His comments had nothing to do with the present healthcare debate. To claim otherwise is a distortion of the truth."

By Greg Sargent  |  July 27, 2010; 1:57 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Health reform  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: More evidence Palin should stay inside her bubble
Next: What does Sharron Angle believe about campaign finance?


I don't think bartering has the same terrible reputation outside of the DC beltway as it has inside the DC beltway.

"They also have--get this--American flags outside their houses! And I mean, not even on the 4th of July!"

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 27, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"But Republicans plan to pounce on this as proof of Chandler's unseriousness"

As though the Republicans were serious about HCR? (or anything else outside of BP and Wall Street protection rackets?)

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 27, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

It's amusing, but I doubt it will go anywhere. Chicken Sue's initial "chickens" statement was wacky, but the story only got legs when she repeatedly tried to deny that she had said it and claim that there was nothing wrong with saying it. Chandler, whatever his other annoying characteristics, has shown no signs of being that incompetent as a candidate.

Posted by: jimeh | July 27, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Obviously not the same. But worth the chuckle. Thanks Greg.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 27, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

To the ignorant woman he was speaking to. If you get breast cancer or have a stroke and are no longer able to pay your bills, is that as it should be? Hm?

Posted by: roxsteady | July 27, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I doubt Chandler would accept chickens in lieu of his congressional paycheck.

Posted by: kingcranky | July 27, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

HAHAHAHA, what a rube. I'm sure he has a kickback job already lined up after he get's canned anyways. Buh-Bye.

Oh...and I'm sure all the DC media outlets will point out the hypocrisy of the GOP attacking a Democrat for this, while not saying anything (or defending) their own candidate who said the same thing.

You know, since all the DC media are so librul and all. *rolls eyes*

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | July 27, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

BBQ: "the hypocrisy of the GOP attacking a Democrat for this, while not saying anything (or defending) their own candidate who said the same thing."

I'm betting that the NRSC is wishing right about now that they would have run to Sue Lowden's rescue immediately after she opened her mouth the first time.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 27, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure everyone in Kentucky is clucking over this.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | July 27, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Given that Doctors and pharmacies charge more for those without insurance than those with insurance, Chandler should recommend bartering chickens for health care insurance, rather than chickens for Dr visits.

Posted by: niceshoes1 | July 27, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

"I'm sure everyone in Kentucky is clucking over this."

I wonder...

Greg, have you asked for a comment from the Rand Paul campaign?

They might want to chicken, I mean check in.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 27, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Sue Lowden, what's the latest from the Nevada Nutbag, Sharron "Right" Angle?

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | July 27, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

koolkat, shows the Reid-Angle race a dead heat.

Other than that, I think she is still in hiding.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 27, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Disclose went down 57-41.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 27, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks sue -- Nutbag Angle has maxed out her votes. Reid will pull it out. Enough voters will refuse to vote for a lunatic like Angle.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | July 27, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

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