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THE NATION

A case of GOP he said, she said

July 10, 2008|Cathleen Decker | Times Staff Writer

Carly Fiorina is one of John McCain's chief surrogates, particularly with that key group, women. But Fiorina, ousted as chief of Hewlett-Packard in 2005, is not above rounding the edges on straight talk.

On Monday, as she discussed healthcare, she veered from a discussion of Viagra -- never a good idea for a campaign surrogate -- and seemed to stake out a new stance for McCain.

"Let me give you a real, live example, which I've been hearing a lot about from women. There are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra but won't cover birth control medication. Those women would like a choice," she said.

But as the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America pointed out, McCain twice voted against measures that would have required insurers to cover birth control.

McCain said Wednesday that he did not recall those votes. "It's something that I had not thought much about," he added. An aide who refused to speak by name said the senator opposed all mandates.

It is not the first time Fiorina has taken some license with McCain's positions. Recently, Newsweek magazine reported, she told women in Ohio that McCain had "never signed on to efforts to overturn Roe vs. Wade," the landmark Supreme Court abortion decision.

Actually, according to his campaign website: "John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench."

The distinctions are important: Democratic strategists worry that McCain's reputation as a maverick will mask his conservative views.

A survey conducted for NARAL confirmed that and suggested that Barack Obama gained when women learned of McCain's positions.

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cathleen.decker@latimes.com

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