By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) announced Friday that he has had a diagnosis of prostate cancer, but said he will remain in office and seek reelection next fall.
Dodd, who has emerged as a key figure in the current congressional debate over health care, said at a news conference in Hartford, Conn., that he learned in June that he had an early stage of prostate cancer. Dodd, 65, will undergo surgery to remove his prostate this month, while the Senate is in recess.
Sitting beside his wife, Jackie, Dodd said, "I'm going to be fine," and added that he expects to return to his Senate duties after a couple of weeks of recovery. In a statement released by Dodd's office, his doctor said the "prognosis for his full recovery is excellent."
"I'll be a little leaner, a little meaner, but I'm running," Dodd told reporters at his Hartford office when asked about seeking reelection. "I'll be running without a prostate, but that might make me a better candidate."
Dodd connected his own situation with his efforts to pass health-care reform. "The benefit of being in Congress and having a good health-care plan is not one available to everyone," he said.
Dodd is the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He has presided over much of that committee's work on health care this year, with the chairman, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), ailing from brain cancer.
Dodd also chairs the Senate Banking Committee, which has been deeply involved in discussions about the nation's economic outlook and the federal stimulus program.
His fifth term in the Senate ends next year, but he has repeatedly indicated his intention to run for reelection, despite the prospect of a very tough battle. A Democrat has announced plans to challenge him in next year's primary, and Republicans have recruited former congressman Rob Simmons to run in the general election.
Dodd faced criticism in Connecticut for moving to Iowa in 2007 in an unsuccessful attempt to reenergize his presidential campaign. This year, at the urging of the Obama administration, Dodd helped write a provision allowing bonuses to be paid to employees at American International Group, the insurance giant that had received money from the federal bailout passed last year.
The Senate ethics committee is also investigating Dodd amid allegations last year that he had received a favorable interest rate when he refinanced his home with Countrywide Financial. The company classified him as a "Friend of Angelo," referring to Angelo R. Mozilo, its founder.
Mozilo has since been charged with fraud in connection with risky lending.