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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist endorsed government-funded research on human embryonic stem cells Friday, breaking with President Bush and the religious conservatives he's been courting for a 2008 presidential bid. He drew praise from former first lady Nancy Reagan.
"It isn't just a matter of faith, it's a matter of science," Frist, a heart-lung transplant surgeon, said in a Senate speech. "The president's policy should be modified."
Bush remained intent on vetoing the House-passed bill that would loosen his 2001 restrictions on funding of research using stem cells from days-old embryos in a search for cures to spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's and other diseases. Frist, a Tennessee Republican, called Bush around dinnertime Thursday to tell him in advance of his decision.
But anti-abortion religious conservatives, a key constituency for any aspiring Republican presidential nominee, swiftly made their negative reaction clear.
"He cannot be pro-life and pro-embryonic stem cell funding," said Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition. "Nor can he turn around and expect widespread endorsement from the pro-life community if he should decide to run for president."
House conservatives were incensed.
"I think the courageous speech would have been to continue to stand strongly in defense of the sanctity of life," said Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey, himself a physician. "We will fight him on this to the very end."
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who denounced embryonic stem cell research as "dismemberment of living, distinct human beings" during the House debate in May, called Frist "a good man ... advocating a bad policy."
Because taking embryonic stem cells destroys embryos, Bush and many other conservatives equate the process with abortion and view it as immoral.
Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
If they want him, I have a feeling he'll be in there whether we want him to be or not.
I'm thinking you're right Marge, he's in this for himself now.
Originally posted by EastCoastKid
I bet Hillary would love for Frist to be the nominee! Even she would probly beat him - and I don't think she's got much of a chance either
Originally posted by brimstone735
My prediction, it's going to be a horse race between Bill Frist and Rick Santorum, because they appeal to the core GOP voters, and they're the ones who really get out during the primaries.
Originally posted by RANT
That blood bath will be a thing of beauty! I love GOP primaries. They ruin lives!
Republican on Republican crime is a beautiful thing.