Steele Uses Own Family Ties To Rebut Actor's Stem Cell Ad

By Ann E. Marimow and John Wagner
Saturday, October 28, 2006

Republican Senate candidate Michael S. Steele has tapped his little sister to answer his Democratic opponent's widely discussed commercial on stem cell research that features actor Michael J. Fox showing overt signs of Parkinson's disease.

In a television counterad released yesterday, Monica Turner, a Bethesda doctor, calls Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin 's ad "deceptive" and "tasteless," adding that he is "using the victim of a terrible disease to frighten people all for his own political gain."

Turner also says her brother does support stem cell research and "cares deeply for those who suffer from disease."

Putting her hand to her heart -- as Fox does in Cardin's commercial -- she then reveals her credentials: She has multiple sclerosis, and "I know he cares about me."

Stem cell research is considered promising for developing treatments for a range of diseases, including Parkinson's and MS.

The issue has at times proved troublesome for Steele. Back in February, he seemed to compare embryonic research to Nazi experimentation when speaking to a Jewish group in Baltimore. He later apologized and clarified his position: He supports research that does not destroy the embryo. Yet he backed President Bush's veto of legislation to provide federal funding for embryonic research.

In Fox's ad, the actor seems to make a distinction between candidates who support research on adult stem cells and those who "fully" support the research, as he says Cardin does.

Susan O'Brien , an advocate for the research, organized a group of Maryland scientists to speak out yesterday against the Steele campaign's ad. She said it was disingenuous for them to "criticize Ben Cardin for allowing Michael J. Fox to speak up for his disease and then use his sister's disease to their advantage."

Turner is the second of Steele's relatives to speak out on the lieutenant governor's behalf. Earlier this week, Steele's mother, Maebell Turner , appeared in a spot that recounts her story of working for minimum wage to pay for her children's education.

Ehrlich Spotlights ICC; O'Malley Adds Endorsements

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr . yesterday questioned his Democratic challenger's support for the intercounty connector, while Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley picked up endorsements from 15 prosecutors and two law enforcement groups.

Ehrlich (R) appeared at a train station in Muirkirk, a potential stop along the route of Metro's Green Line if it is extended to Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport -- for which Ehrlich reiterated his support yesterday.

Ehrlich also touted his championing of the ICC, an 18-mile toll highway that would connect Montgomery and Prince George's counties, and his administration's launch of 123 road, bridge and transit projects in the past four years.

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