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Rehberg ad says Tester 'playing politics with cancer' in 'false attacks'

Rehberg cites a fact-check from a state news organization that ran in five local papers in making the charge about Tester, who has run an ad accusing Rehberg of voting to cut funding for preventive cancer screenings.

"Newspapers across Montana say Jon Tester's attack on Denny Rehberg is not true," the ad's narrators says. "The Billings Gazette says Denny's vote 'did not eliminate funding for breast cancer screening.' The Missoulian says Denny's budget 'had funds for cancer prevention programs,' and the Independent Record reports Denny 'funded the agency that pays directly with breast cancer screening.' Jon Tester, false attacks are wrong — but playing politics with cancer is even worse."

The ad is the latest in a high-stakes back-and-forth over Tester's ad that accuses Rehberg of cutting funding for preventive cancer treatments because he voted to cut Title X funds that provide money to community health clinics that conduct some preventive health screenings like breast exams. Rehberg ran an ad featuring his mother, who has cancer, defending him last week.

The fact-check Rehberg quotes from points out that Title X does not pay directly for "cancer screening," but that the money he voted against does provide money for services that could lead to women discovering cancer.

The two are locked in a tight and increasingly nasty battle for the seat, which could determine control of the Senate — The Hill rates the race a "toss-up." Both have sought to burnish their independent images in the small state — and how the majority of voters end up deciding to feel about the two candidates at a personal level is likely to determine the race's results, making this fight over who is more honest a crucial one in the campaign.

This post was updated at 1:40 p.m.

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