McCain Runs Pro-Stem Cell Ad, While Campaign Website Criticizes Research Involving ‘Human Embryos’

Conservatives have long disguised their disdain for embryonic stem cell research, the most promising type of stem cell research, by saying they support the practice only in the form of “adult stem cell research.” “Say, yes!,” the Family Research Council tells conservatives to say when asked if they support stem cell research.

In a new radio ad out today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) dubs himself and Gov. Sarah Palin as the “original mavericks, stating that a McCain-Palin administration would enthusiastically support stem cell research:

They’re the original mavericks. Leaders. Reformers. Fighting for real change. … John McCain will lead his Congressional allies to improve America’s health. … Stem cell research to help free families from the fear and devastation of illness. … Change is coming. McCain-Palin and Congressional allies,

Listen here:

The ad, however, makes no mention at all of “embryonic” research. In 2007, McCain specifically praised this practice, stating, “embryonic stem cell research…holds the best opportunity to relieve the pain and suffering of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, all these terrible debilitating diseases.”


On his website, however, McCain says he will “strongly support” scientific studies that do “not involve the use of human embryos”:

As president, John McCain will strongly support funding for promising research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem cell research and other types of scientific study that do not involve the use of human embryos.

Where federal funds are used for stem cell research, Senator McCain believes clear lines should be drawn that reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress, and that any such research should be subject to strict federal guidelines.

In a 2006 gubernatorial debate, Gov. Palin said, “no, stem-cell research would ultimately end in destruction of life. I couldn’t support (it).’” The 2008 GOP platform included language calling for a ban on “all embryonic stem-cell research, public or private.” It seems that the “original mavericks” are using a tried right-wing tactic of disguising their opposition to embryonic research with rhetorical tricks.


The USA Today reports this morning:

“We’ve always been a little concerned that Senator McCain may have voted for this, but would he be there in the long term when he is the president of the United States versus just a senator?” said Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., who supports McCain but advocates the research. […]Those who oppose the research are also uncertain.

“He seems to be moving away from that position, but we currently have not heard he’s changed that position,” said Colleen Parro, executive director of the Republican National Coalition for Life.