The Hot Story: Stem Cell Research

This partial transcript of The Beltway Boys, July 7, 2001 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

FRED BARNES, HOST:  The hot story, of course, is this huge issue over stem cell research, an issue that President Bush could have put to bed easily in the early days of his administration.  It would have been a one-day story, this question of whether you should be allowed to destroy human embryos to create stem cells for scientific and medical research.

Now there is a massive campaign, not just by the pro-choice movement but all the disease groups, some -- even some conservative...

MORT KONDRACKE, HOST:  People like me.

BARNES:  ... pro-life Republicans, people like you, there's this massive campaign, and they have polls to back up.  Look at this poll, Mort, in particular.  It's -- I believe it's an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll showing that 69 percent support stem cell research.

Now, I would also say that if you ask a question (inaudible) a different way and talk about destroying human embryos, the numbers are flipped, and the, and the -- and -- and the Catholic Bishops did exactly that.

Now, of course, there's a growing movement among pro-lifers and conservatives that's not as big as the massive campaign to allow this research, but it's for (inaudible).

KONDRACKE:  Listen, I think, I think that this speaks very well of George Bush, that, that he is morally conflicted about this issue.  During the campaign he said, No way stem cell research.  He reconsidered his position.  He did not, you know, just leap into fulfilling his campaign promise, and he thought about it, because, because Tommy Thompson, secretary of Health and Human Services, Connie Mack, former senator, and a lot of other people like Orrin Hatch and John McCain, and even reportedly Dick Cheney, are urging him to permit the research to go forward because these stem cell -- these, these embryos, which are frozen in in vitro fertilization clinics and are destined for destruction...

BARNES:  Well, not necessarily.

KONDRACKE:  ... can be used to save lives.  And that is the true pro-life position.

BARNES:  Well, well, they aren't -- well, no, I don't think so.  I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- I think he's -- I think he would be better off on purely political grounds, Mort, if he did a Reagan and said, Look, I -- what I said in the campaign, that this research is wrong, we can use adult stem cells, they don't hurt anybody, but we should not -- do that first, and take a strong moral position.  And you know what happens when you do that, and you don't flip-flop?  People respect it.  They may not agree with you, but they respect it.

KONDRACKE:  Well, I think it'd be wrong.

BARNES:  Well, I think he's probably going to compromise.  We'll see. 

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