MIAMI — Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is sparring with her Republican challenger over whether it's appropriate on the campaign trail to highlight being a cancer survivor.
Republican Karen Harrington is accusing Wasserman Schultz, who is also the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, of referring to her battle with breast cancer in a recent campaign flier to score political points in her South Florida district.
"I was fortunate. I had good insurance and great doctors. Today, I'm a survivor. But like every breast cancer survivor, I now have a pre-existing condition," Wasserman Schultz says in a campaign flier. She has had seven surgeries in the past year, including a double mastectomy.
Harrington, whose own campaign website briefly mentions that she, too, is a cancer survivor and that she advocates for cancer awareness, sharply criticized the Democrat's campaign flier.
A fundraising email accuses Wasserman Schultz of using her breast cancer battle to "make cheap political points."
The Republican's campaign news release called it "shameful" and said Wasserman Schultz would say anything to get re-elected.
Harrington, who lost to Wasserman Schultz in 2010, survived melanoma and later cervical cancer while pregnant. But she said she doesn't feel the need to broadcast it to voters.
Harrington said she supports health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions and has discussed her disease when the issue of health care comes up.
A Wasserman Schultz spokesman blasted the criticism.
"Harrington's attack is pathetic, tasteless and quite possibly a new low in American politics," said campaign spokesman Jonathan Beeton. "Debbie Wasserman Schultz is at the forefront of those working to raise awareness of breast cancer and was a key supporter of Obamacare, which allows every American to have health insurance to diagnose and fight cancer and prevents survivors from being denied coverage due to their pre-existing condition."