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February 13, 2016

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Line of Attack: Do Joe Heck’s votes on women’s health make him too extreme for Nevada?

Line of Attack is a weekly feature in which we parse a political attack, looking at the strategy behind it, how the campaign is delivering it and what facts support or refute it. We’ll assign it a rating on the fairness meter: Legit, Eye Roll, Guffaw, Laughable or Outrageous.

Attack: Joe Heck voted against requiring insurance companies to pay for the cervical cancer vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV). Hence, he is “too extreme” for Nevada.

Method of delivery: This is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s second commercial about votes Heck took, mostly while a state senator, on women’s health issues. The first charged that Heck “opposes a woman’s right to choose” and “voted against funding Planned Parenthood”; the newer commercial just focuses on cervical cancer, starring a nurse who says the disease is preventable and argues Heck “sided with insurance companies” and “voted against saving lives.”

Strategy: This line of attack tries to tie Heck to the war on women Democrats say Republicans are waging through their votes on health care.

Fairness meter: Heck did vote against a bill requiring health insurance providers in Nevada to cover HPV vaccinations in 2007. Heck opposes abortion rights, though he makes exceptions for abortion in cases of rape, incest or health of the mother. And he did back an amendment to eliminate government funding for Planned Parenthood. So the attack is solid on facts.

But this feature is called "line of attack." And there, we have to wonder what the DCCC is thinking.

The only issue from Heck’s time in Congress is the Planned Parenthood vote. But the DCCC chose to double-down on Heck’s cervical cancer vote instead, even though it’s older and less clear-cut. In 2007, there was only one HPV vaccine on the market — Gardasil — and still many questions about its safety (the FDA approved it in 2006). Even the chairman of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was out in 2007 recommending states not pass laws requiring girls to get vaccinated.

Nevada’s law didn’t go that far. And despite new research, it seems Heck hasn’t tried to reverse his position.

Still, considering the age of the charges and the circumstances surrounding them, we rate this line of attack an Eye Roll.

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