March 31st, 2009
04:23 PM ET
7 years ago

Kaine blocks funding for embryonic stem cell research

Virginia governor Tim Kaine was Obama's choice to lead the DNC.

Virginia governor Tim Kaine was Obama's choice to lead the DNC.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has signed a bill into law banning the use of some state funds for embryonic stem cell research.

The move puts the DNC chairman at odds with President Obama, who signed an executive order earlier this month reversing the Bush administration's ban on federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells.

Kaine approved the Virginia bill on Monday, according to the governor's office, the same day he enacted legislation that would permit "Choose Life" license plates in the commonwealth - an act that angered state and national abortion rights advocates.

The governor signed another piece of legislation Monday aimed at promoting "science and technology-based" research and development in Virginia. It contains language inserted by the General Assembly that would prevent a state fund from providing dollars to organizations or businesses that undertake "research in Virginia on human cells or tissue derived from induced abortions or from stem cells obtained from human embryos."

Kaine's support for the legislation is not surprising: He is a staunch Catholic who has long opposed using taxpayer money for embryonic stem cell research. But the platform of the Democratic Party, now headed by Kaine at Obama's behest, describes embryonic stem cell research as "research that could save lives."

Both the stem cell bill and the license plate uproar highlight the balancing act Kaine faces in his dual roles of the moment: one as policy-minded governor of a moderate state, and another as a the national face for a partisan organization seeking to promote President Obama agenda. Kaine will assume the DNC position full time when his term expires in January.

Asked for comment about Kaine's departure from the national party line, the DNC referred questions to the governor's office in Richmond.

Lynda Tran, the governor's communications director, said that Kaine's decision is "in keeping with his faith and his personal beliefs."

"The governor is opposed to the use of state funds to fund embryonic stem cell research, but he generally agrees with the national platform broadly, that there are scientific values to stem cell research," Tran said. "In Virginia, where there has been strong opposition to embryonic research, he has chosen to focus on other forms of research like adult and placental stem cell research."

The bill signed Monday allows funding for non-embryonic types of research.

All three of the Democrats vying to replace Kaine as governor this fall - Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds - support using state money for embryonic research.

UPDATE: A spokesman for the Republican candidate for governor, Bob McDonnell, said he opposes state funding for embryonic research but supports other forms of stem cell research. Martin said McDonnell has "a personal and direct interest" in the matter because his father suffers from Alzheimer's.

"Adult stem cell research avoids the ethical questions associated with taxpayer funded embryonic stem cell research," said McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin. "Bob McDonnell believes we should focus tax dollars on research methods where there is common ground.

Article updated at 9:30 a.m. EST

Filed under: DNC • President Obama • Tim Kaine
soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. Enlightened Voter

    God, if I didn't know better I would swear he was a rethuglican. Very disappointed in you Kaine, I thought you cared.

    March 31, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. Paris

    Finally someone with a backbone, very rare in the democratic party.

    March 31, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. Tasha

    I feel like that Obama can and will get the nation back on track, Obama has already set laws and pass laws that has been successful. We as a nation need to help and support his team. Yet and still or some of his people agianst every plan that he want to pass. But Obama is a smart man his will get the economy back on track.

    March 31, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. BusyMom

    I am glad that the Democratic party allows its members to think for themselves - unlike the republicans who intimidate anyone who does not stick to their party line exactly. Democrats are for using one's brain to think through the issues and making your own decision, republicans are for being a mindless follower.

    March 31, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. Gene

    Once again religion gets in the way of progress.

    March 31, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. Paul, Riverside CA

    Lynda Tran, the governor's communications director, said that Kaine's decision is "in keeping with his faith and his personal beliefs."

    So, that whole "Separation of Church and State" really doesn't mean shit.

    Maybe, hopefully one day, politicians will realize that what they believe is not conclusive of every American and set aside their "Beliefs" and make decisions for the good of the country and not for their own good.

    March 31, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. H Martin

    Kaine you are an idiot. President Obama just signed an order why can't you accept the fact and move on. Not everyone should have to live by your religious views. I have my religious views as well, but they are mine and I don't go around forcing them on anyone else.

    March 31, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I don't like the fact that the governor is letting his beliefs cloud his judgement. We are the home of the military and our veterans can definitely benefit from this research. I want to know where Mr. Moran stands on the issue because that's who I intend on voting for.

    March 31, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. Boehner has a hard on for Obama

    Excellent example of seperating Church and State!


    March 31, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. a REAL American

    What? A Democrat with convictions, and courageous enough to stand by them? Why do I feel like this is an episode of the Twilight Zone?

    March 31, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. xargaw

    As a person of faith, I have great difficulty with the strident piety of many religious people in govenment that cannot separate church and state, and their own beliefs from their duties in the public square. Kaine is wrong. He is blocking what amounts to a civil order from the President. If he cannot support the President and the overwhelming will of the people in this country (more than 80%), he should step down from heading the DNC. Most americans are sick of the influence of judgemental doctrine on the whole population. If Kaine is more beholden to the pope than to his civil responsiblities, he needs to resign.

    March 31, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  12. Frank

    What a tool... Kaine is the epitome of lame, wishy-washy Democrat. We need true liberal leaders for the Democratic party, not these moderate, stance-changing cavers like Kaine.

    March 31, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. Blue Dog Democrat, Chicago, IL

    “Asked for comment about Kaine's departure from the national party line, the DNC referred questions to the governor's office in Richmond”

    This proves that there’s room in the Democratic Party for moderates which is why they have been winning elections lately. The Democrats learned that if they let the far left continue to run the party like they have in the past they will lose elections. Unfortunately there’s not room in the current Republican Party moderates which is why they are losing; if they allowed Steele to run the RNC instead of Rush & the far right, they might start back winning elections outside of the Southern States & low population rural areas.

    March 31, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. Moderate Democrat

    And this is why the democratic party can become the only party necessary. We atleast have healthy differing opinions with in this party. People who can disagree on specifics, but overall agree on progress.

    Unlike republicans, differences in this party can be worked out for the best of ALL of america. Democrats do not take it's own party and scorch them in front of the whole world, like the GOP habitually does. If you don't agree with them, they burn you at the cross.

    March 31, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. Shooky

    Wow a Democrat that doesn't just use their religion as a prop during campaigns and speeches only to shed their principles when it comes to enacting policy. Pelosi, Kennedy, Biden, Sebelius, Obama, et al should take notice. I may disagree with most of his policies, but I respect him for actually living his faith instead of letting himself be directed by party ideaology.

    That being said, Democrats nationwide will ask for his head on a platter, only to be regrown later with breakthroughs only possible via embryonic stem cell research... which would also be the first cure produced by such research. Unless producing tumors is considered a cure.

    March 31, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. Geektronica

    I, for one, am happy to see this controversy aired. I would much rather have a party of people who stand by their beliefs – even if they differ from the party platform – than an enforced orthodoxy.

    If we are really going to have a new kind of politics in Washington, we can't be afraid of Democrats opposing stem cell research and abortion, Republicans supporting gay rights, or any of the other combinations that would have at one time been considered oxymorons.

    March 31, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  17. Virginian

    WOW! What a refreshing and uplifting piece of news to read today. Kudos to Gov. Kaine for standing up for his beliefs and supporting legislation that will prevent, in Virginia at least, the needless slaughter of thousands of babies when there are other avenues of stem cell lines to explore. This gives me pause to think there may be hope for something as precious as the unborn!

    March 31, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. Change in America

    President Obama need to replace Kaine why would someone block research for cure..

    I never did trust Kaine

    March 31, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. Patti in Dallas

    Wow, turns out that the RNC chair is pro-choice and the DNC chair is anti-choice. Who'da thunk it.

    March 31, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. yuri

    We will bet that Gov. Kaine will be a main pain and he has slain the state fund availability and rained his rein of power to stain the Dems just a tad. That causes a lot of disdain for some Dems resultin' in a drain of their energy.

    March 31, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. angrysob in VA

    Mr Kaine, You need to step down from your DNC Chair position and start dealing with the problems in VA. The VA Employment Commission is understaffed. The unemployed in VA cannot get through to VEC workers to get the most simple questions answered. I've been trying to get an answer on paperwork for weeks now and no one will return my calls or e-mail. I'm not the only one going through this. Get to work on the problems at hand. People are suffering in VA

    March 31, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. Super MOD

    To AP in Illinois
    Politics is all about perception. The current perceptions by a majority of Americans of the Democratic Party:

    1) Only ideas to solve the problems is spend money we do not have
    2) Sore losers. Still can't get over losing the 2000 election.
    3) Disingenuous. Making up issues that don't really contribute to solving issues such as AIG bonuses
    4) Uncompromising and inflexible. My way or the highway attitude with the stimulus bill
    5) Behind the times. Still promoting spending as the cure all
    6) Hypocritical. Criticizes everyone who does not have their beliefs and then calls everyone else out for criticizing like them
    7) Shrill. Dems do not seem interested in discussion if it means listening to the facts (CBO projections)
    Dishonest. All of the above tactics add up to not wanting to be an honest good faith player to govern as the majority party.
    9) Blaming others. The Dems need to take responsibility for their actions and words. Stop using Bush as a crutch when the housing bubble started before he took office. Look at what the Dems said when Bush tried to fix Fannie and Freddie in his first term.

    These are all perceptions that need to be addressed. And the Carville/Begalla's of the party are not doing anything to try to changes that perception.

    For 6 of the 8 years under Bush, we had record profits in all of our 401K accounts. No one was complaining then. The stock market goes up and down. The economy has bubbles. Government interference in the economy is what causes the bubbles. ie…Lowering rates too low for too long to move past the tech bubble. Our economy is built on private enterprise. It is the same private enterprise that will get us through down times, not government.

    March 31, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  23. Retired Army in San Antonio

    Hey......Kaine is what he is: A 'Conservative' Democrate.

    This should've been apparent to anyone who actually knew his positions......and it's an ideology probably what caused (as much as anything else) him to be elected into the governors seat to begin with, since he's from a state that more conservative than liberal.....

    March 31, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  24. Houff

    Unless people are just hot to kill and embryo, this issue is (thankfully), about to become moot. It appears that there is a procedure allowing removal of embryonic cells without having to sacrifice the embryo. If that is the case, even Obama and maybe even NARAL (although abortion may be a sacrament to them) should agree to halt killing of human embryos.

    March 31, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  25. kaz

    Its just a great thing to see someone break from the herd on something he feels strongly about.

    March 31, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
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