Stem-cell findings may affect ’08 vote; breakthrough called ‘amazing’
The reported breakthrough in adult stem-cell research could affect the presidential nomination campaigns in both parties.
“Today’s announcement is just one more indication that our current policy in relying only on adult stem cells is working,” Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson said in a statement released by his campaign.
Researchers on Nov. 20 announced that they were able to transform human skin cells into embryonic stem cells, a process that eliminates the destruction of embryos.
Fidelis, a lay-organized Catholic advocacy organization, fired off a statement calling the breakthrough “amazing.”
“It eliminates the perceived ‘need’ to destroy human embryos for research and vindicates President Bush and Catholic Church leaders who called for an ethical approach to scientific research,” Fidelis President Brian Burch said.
Some observers said the discovery could all but eliminate the controversy over the morality of using embryonic stem cells, a process Mr. Bush and others view as the taking of human life.
“Now conservatives who are strongly supportive of scientific research, cures for currently intractable diseases and American competitiveness can raise the banner of stem-cell research without going against their conscience or their base support,” pollster John Zogby said.
Mr. Thompson was the first presidential candidate to comment on the news. The former Tennessee senator said the new findings throw out old arguments that human embryonic stem cells are needed for medical research.
“Using adult stem cells negates the need for cloning embryos to harvest their stem cells,” he said.
“This is a win for pro-life advocates like Governor [Mitt] Romney, who also support advancing research, but in a way that respects life,” said Kevin Madden, a spokesman for the former Massachusetts governor.
The office of Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul also had a response to a reporter’s question about the stem-cell breakthrough. “From the legislative standpoint, Congressman Paul will continue to oppose federal funding for such research because the federal government has no constitutional authority to fund such research,” said Mr. Paul’s chief of staff, Tom Lizardo.
Most analysts agreed the new findings pull the rug from under the Democrats on a theme they expected to use against Republican candidates who oppose embryonic stem-cell research.
Thompson pollster John McLaughlin said the breakthrough undermines arguments used by Democratic presidential candidates like Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republicans like Rudolph W. Giuliani.
“It hurts Hillary and the other Democratic candidates because they have been trying to say the pro-life movement is too extreme,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “They have argued that embryonic stem-cell research has produced cures when it hasn’t.”
He said the latest breakthrough shows there is no need for research using embryonic stem cells.
Mr. Giuliani’s campaign told The Washington Times that the former New York mayor would have no response to the breakthrough. Campaign spokesman Maria Comella said that in May, Mr. Giuliani had said he supports embryonic stem-cell research as “long as we’re not creating life in order to destroy it, as long as we’re not having human cloning, and we limit it to that. [. . . ]”
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said, “Once again science is catching up to ethics, proving that the moral way is the soundest scientific choice. Candidates that have stood for ethics to guide science will be vindicated by this, and candidates that want human life to be subjects for scientific research for the socalled greater good of others should be shamed by this.
“This breakthrough can help voters to evaluate candidates on their moral fortitude to lead America,” she said. “Will they do what is right because it is right, or will they do what is politically expedient and treat humans as objects to benefit others?”
Reason to smile. Mitt Romney