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Nancy Reagan, McCain and stem cells

From NBC's Chris Donovan
In light of today's news of Nancy Reagan's endorsement of McCain -- the two will appear together this afternoon, the campaign said -- McCain has credited Nancy Reagan, in part, for his change in position on federal funding for stem cell research. He explained her impact on Meet the Press in 2005, and reiterated his support at the MSNBC presidential debate (with Nancy Reagan present) in May 2007.

Here's what was said:

FROM MEET THE PRESS (June 19, 2005):
TIM RUSSERT: Let me turn to another ethical, moral, political issue, stem cell research. In 2000, John McCain and 19 other senators wrote a letter which said "Since 1996 Congress has banned federal funding for `research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed.' ...we support [this law]."

You've changed your mind.

McCAIN: Yes, I have.

RUSSERT: Why?

McCAIN: For a large number of reasons, ranging from getting briefed by very smart people on this issue and including discussing this with Nancy Reagan who, as you know, is a very strong advocate for stem cell research. I want to make it clear that those of us who support this do not believe that it has anything to do with human cloning and all of us are against human cloning. I look forward to the debate. It's a very complex scientific issue. But for us to throw away opportunities to cure diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and many others I think would be a mistake. I look forward to the debate. It's interesting that more than two-thirds of the American people support stem cell research.

RUSSERT: There is a discussion now in legislation which would say that embryos created in fertilization clinics that are not used by the couple to have another baby could be used for stem cell research. Others say, no, no, they should be given to other couples, so-called snowflake babies. Where do you come down on that?

McCAIN: I think that--first of all, I don't claim to be an expert. But, second of all, I think that should be up to the couples that--whose embryos they are. I think that's a decision that they should probably make.

FROM MSNBC DEBATE (May 3, 2007):
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Senator, embryonic stem cell, federal funding.

MCCAIN; I want to thank Mrs. Reagan for the many kindnesses extended to me many -- and my fellow prisoners of war many years ago when we came home to this wonderful state.  I believe that we need to fund this. This is a tough issue for those of us in the pro-life community. I would remind you that these stem cells are either going to be discarded or perpetually frozen. We need to do what we can to relieve human suffering. It's a tough issue. I support federal funding.