Politics & Government

Health care debate is personal for California Senate candidate Fiorina

Carly Fiorina launched her U.S. Senate campaign this month in a Garden Grove warehouse not with a promise or policy statement, but a simple question:

"What's with the hair?"

Fiorina, 55, had short, cropped hair after undergoing chemotherapy this summer, telling supporters she was a breast cancer survivor and making it clear she planned to embrace her experience during the campaign.

In recent days, Fiorina has talked more about her cancer experience than she might have envisioned. After a federal task force recommended last week that women get fewer mammograms, Fiorina turned her breast cancer story into a new campaign message.

Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, assailed the guidelines on various cable news shows. She told women to reject them and said she might not be alive if not for regular mammogram screenings and self checks.

Legislators in both parties have spoken against the guidelines for reduced preventive screenings, including Sen. Barbara Boxer, whom Fiorina hopes to unseat.

But Fiorina also has suggested the recommendations are a preview of health care under the federal overhaul that has been proposed, a position that plays well with the conservative voters she needs in the GOP primary.

Fiorina was diagnosed with breast cancer in February, had surgery in March and went through chemotherapy and radiation thereafter. Her aides acknowledged the disease throughout her treatment.

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