McCain, RNC Don’t Respond to Questions About Ambiguous Stem-Cell Ad

By Matt Hadro | September 18, 2008 | 8:22 AM EDT

A political ad paid for by McCain-Palin '08 and the RNC does not specify what kind of stem-cell research McCain is pledging to promote.

( - For the second consecutive day, neither the McCain-Palin campaign nor the Republican National Committee would respond to questions from about an ambiguous radio ad that says McCain will push for more federal spending on stem-cell research if he is elected president.
The ad, however, does not specify whether that research will be limited to stem-cell research that does not involve the killing of human embryos.
In the Senate, McCain has twice voted to use tax dollars to fund research using stem cells taken from human embryos that are killed in the process.
Research can also be conducted on stem cells taken from cord blood or from adult tissue. 
President Bush twice vetoed the stem-cell research bill that McCain voted for because Bush is opposed killing human beings for medical research and to using federal tax dollars to fund such research.
The radio ad, paid for by McCain-Palin ’08 and the Republican National Committee, does not specify what kind of stem-cell research McCain is pledging to promote. 

It also does not specify the political party of the “congressional allies” the ad says McCain plans to work with on the stem-cell issue--even though the ad is paid for by the Republican Party and the allies McCain voted with on past stem-cell bills were mostly Democrats.
The ad
Announcer: “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 unlock the mystery of cancer, diabetes, heart disease. Stem-cell research to help free families from the fear and devastation of illness. Stem-cell research to help doctors repair spinal cord damage, knee injuries, serious burns. Stem-cell research to help stroke victims.
“And John McCain and his congressional allies will invest millions more in new NIH medical research to prevent disease. Medical breakthroughs to help you get better, faster. Change is coming. McCain-Palin and congressional allies. The leadership and experience to really change Washington and improve your health.
Paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee.”
What kind of stem-cell research? contacted both the RNC and the McCain campaign to ask what kind of stem-cell research McCain is promising to “invest millions more” to support.
Specifically, asked: “Are you referring to research utilizing only adult or cord-blood stem cells, or to research involving embryonic stem cells only--or a combination of the two?”
If the ad does refer to embryonic stem-cell research, also asked: “How does that square with the party platform, which places the GOP on record as supporting a ban on the use of any stem cells obtained from human embryos for research purposes? also tried contacting some of McCain’s Republican “congressional allies” to see if they know anything about it.
Andrew Cole, a spokesman for Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa), defended the ad.
“It’s a great ad. We’re for stem-cell research, too,” Cole told “We want to spend federal money wisely, on research that is both ethical and holds real promise for cures.”
But Cole did not know what kind of stem-cell research the McCain/RNC ad was championing.
“Sorry, but I'm not going to speculate on what they meant or why they haven't commented on the ad,” Cole responded.
Adult stem-cell research is widely acclaimed both for its ethical treatment of human life and its success in the medical field. Embryonic stem cell research remains controversial due to the fact that the embryos are killed when their stem cells are extracted.  So far it has not proved successful in developing treatments for diseases.
In 2006 and 2007, McCain voted for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. In 2007, it passed 63-34, with 13 Senate Republicans voting for it. In 2006, it passed 63-37, with 14 Senate Republicans voting for it.  Bush vetoed the bill both times.
“If this bill were to become law, American taxpayers for the first time in our history would be compelled to fund the deliberate destruction of human embryos,” Bush said in his 2006 veto statement to Congress. “Crossing this line would be a grave mistake and would needlessly encourage a conflict between science and ethics that can only do damage to both and harm our Nation as a whole.”
Among McCain’s “congressional allies” lining up against President Bush and the majority of Senate Republicans to vote for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act in 2006 and 2007 were Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the Democratic presidential candidate; Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), the Democratic vice presidential candidate; Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate; Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
At an August 16 forum at the Saddleback Church in California, where he was questioned by the Rev. Rick Warren, McCain said he believed that a baby was entitled to human rights from the “moment of conception.” But he did not back away from his support for embryonic stem cell research that kills human embryos—saying only that he hoped it would become an “academic” question if breakthrough research using skin cells advanced.
“[At] what point is a baby entitled to human rights?” Warren asked McCain during the forum.
“At the moment of conception,” said McCain. “I have a 25-year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate. And as president of the United States, I will be a pro-life president and this presidency will have pro-life policies. That's my commitment. That's my commitment to you.”
Later, Warren asked: “All right. Another issue is stem cells. Now, we've had this scientific breakthrough of creating pluripotent stem cells through adult stem cells.
“Yes,” said McCain.
“So would you favor or oppose the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research since we have this other breakthrough?” asked Warren.
“For those of us in the pro-life community, this has been a great struggle and a terrible dilemma, because we're also taught other obligations that we have as well,” said McCain.  “I've come down on the side of stem cell research, but I am wildly optimistic that skin cell research, which is coming more and more into focus and practicability, will make this debate an academic one.”
David O’Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee, said he believes the McCain/RNC radio ad “includes adult stem cells and does not represent any change in McCain’s position on stem cell research.”
“I took the ad to include adult stem cells, and from what I saw, (McCain) recently reiterated his opposition to cloning, so I don’t think this represents any change in his position,” O’Steen told

He also pointed out that the Republican nominee is firmly opposed to the intentional creation and cloning of human embryos for research, a position that Obama opposes.