Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has already reversed himself once on the question of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. But one conservative Florida group wants him to switch again. In television and radio ads to air in Iowa, the Center for Reclaiming America calls on Frist to oppose the controversial research.
Frist, a surgeon and potential presidential candidate in 2008, came out forcefully for federally funded studies on embryonic stem cells in July 2001. But after President Bush adopted a more restrictive policy, Frist said the limits were sufficient.
Last month, Frist said he would support legislation to lift the Bush restrictions and allow federal research on tens of thousands of cell lines extracted from days-old embryos.
As images of a baby flash on the screen, a narrator intones: "Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist supports public funding for research that actually destroys human life." And the voice then speaks directly to Frist: "We cannot save innocent lives by destroying them."
The center is an offshoot of Coral Ridge Ministries, best known for the televangelism of D. James Kennedy. The group expects to spend about $40,000 running the spots on local and cable stations in the Des Moines area for a week, hoping to influence some of the Republicans who vote in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses.
Frist spokesman Nick Smith said the senator respects the differing opinions on the issue, but "after long thought, he has made his decision based on principle and believes the research holds great promise in helping many people."
Mayor Daley Gets an Early Boost
Standing up for a longtime ally, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) became the most prominent politician to deliver a public defense of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) this week, telling a downtown audience the mayor's achievements outweigh his faults.
He said he will support Daley if he seeks a sixth term in 2007.
Emanuel, a former Daley fundraiser and Clinton White House official, said he does not think Daley was aware of influence peddling in City Hall, despite the mayor's penchant for micromanagement and the recent federal indictment of his patronage chief.
"I don't for one second believe that he sanctioned the improprieties in hiring or contracting," Emanuel told an audience of several hundred political and business figures at the City Club of Chicago. ". . .The mayor deserves criticism not for what he knew but for what he didn't.' "
Daley has taken repeated hits this year as U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald -- who is also the special counsel in the Valerie Plame leak case -- has zeroed in on City Hall. A Chicago Tribune poll showed Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., a Chicago Democrat, in a dead heat with Daley in a prospective mayoral race.
Emanuel said he was swimming at a YMCA in Washington last month when he decided to defend Daley, and Chicago. By contrast, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said the City Hall scandals gave him "huge pause."
Emanuel said he did not first discuss the speech with the mayor or seek assurances that his conduct was clean. "My gut tells me he didn't really care about the nitty-gritty of politics," Emanuel said. He credited Daley with improving Chicago schools and public housing, as well as focusing on cultural institutions and the environment. Race relations have improved, particularly since the rough-and-tumble rule of Daley's father.
"Today," Emanuel said, "we are not Beirut on the Lake."
Emanuel said it is "essential" for Daley to reform the way the city does business if he seeks another term, but he predicted the mayor would win if he ran again.
Slevin reported from Chicago.