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. JL

    OK, what is the problem. He has a right and duty to "be true to thyself". Is there not enouph news out here for CNN to report. Mr. Kaine is the GOV of VA, not just the DNC Chair or a father, brother, son. Get over it.

    March 31, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Baze

    Whatever, Virginia always goes rogue

    March 31, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  3. thank goodness

    At least there is one SMART democrate that saw the truth behind the Obama disttractions, Thank you

    March 31, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  4. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    It looks like Daine and BoBo are on the same sheet of music-–doesn't it.

    March 31, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  5. Enlightened Voter

    Thanks for the transparency President Obama, how refreshing and what a nice change! Let';s see how those rabid rethugs spin this into something negative. BTW GWB bankrupted this country spending all our money in Iraq. President Obama is spending all his stimulus money in America and the rethugs have a problem with that!

    March 31, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  6. Regular People

    Great. Here's something that has no capacity for pain, and will never have any capacity for pain unless it is gestated by a woman until the 3rd trimester when all studies show that the capacity for pain is developed.
    But somehow it is more important to disregard the suffering of people for something that will likely be discarded as biomedical waste.

    Tell me something- when the laboratory throws is out- will there be a law that says that there has to be a funeral and a death certificate?

    Is Tim Kaine going to lead the push for social security numbers for every embryo?

    Hmmf. I didn't think so.

    March 31, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. Enlightened Voter

    Disappointed in you mr. kaine, you are acting like a rethuglican!

    March 31, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    If Kaine is against using taxpayers--and agrees to the broad policy of releasing the ban on embroynic stem cell research---it is OK for the taxpayer to pay the federal portion to support stem cell research--it is just that he doesn't want state funding to support it-right? How much federal funding is Virginai receiving? Another rising DNC star--where are the real true grit men?

    March 31, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. Desmond

    There should be room for all points of view in a democratic party. Obama is also PRO LIFE, remember?
    And Choose Life licence plates are just fine!

    March 31, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Virginian

    Good for him sticking to his principles.

    March 31, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. Liberals Are Stupid

    Didn't this goofball support Obama signing that rescinding order? Are all liberals just plain hypocrites, or just the vast majority of them?

    March 31, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  12. Georgia Gal

    If his opinions are that differing from the platform of the Democratic party then he probably should not be head of the DNC.

    March 31, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. Aaron in Charlottesville

    C'mon Gov. Kaine...I respect your personal beliefs, but don't let them interfere with progress and science. I could care less about the license plates; let people express their opinions however they would like. In terms of stem cell research, however, the governor should not let his personal beliefs dictate state policy.

    March 31, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  14. Angela

    Obama is an open-minded individual. I would think that he would respect Kaine's right to his own beliefs. There are Democrats who are Pro Choice or No Choice but that's ok, it's called diversity.

    March 31, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. Mike

    Human life begins at conception. To deny scripture based evidence on this fact is to deny God. If we as a nation allow our leadership to adopt immoral, unethical policies like stem cell research from aborted fetusus then we must accept the judgement from the Lord along with it. Remember, we the people have the ability to control what our leaders in D.C do.

    March 31, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  16. Peter


    March 31, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  17. doc stem

    Opposing state funds to pursue stem cell research will only hold your state back from doing important research that saves lives. Simply look at the advances being made now... from curing type 1 diabetes to creating beating hearts for transplantation to wound healing and so much more!
    Holding your state back from these research endeavors will accomplish absolutely nothing positive. It will not hold back research elsewhere. The only thing you will accomplish is a further 'brain-drain' from the state of Virginia as scientists leave for better climates for needed research.
    Opposing embryonic stem cell research currently stems from a fallacy... that embryos MUST be destroyed to harvest these cells. While that was once true, it no longer is. All that was needed was time to improve methods of obtaining the cells in a non destructive manner. Now that such methods HAVE BEEN developed, there is no longer any sort of moral grounds to oppose such research. There only remains ignorance.

    March 31, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. ex-obama supporter

    what a maroon. i'm glad i quit the DNC ,after obama's disastrous townhall.

    March 31, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. Michael - USAF Veteran

    Finally a Democrat with some common sense.

    March 31, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. K, California

    not a bad idea. keep it in the blue for 2012!

    March 31, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. Dennis

    Finally a Democrat with a moral compass.

    March 31, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  22. Rick

    Governor Kaine, you may want to pick out a nice comfy spot under Obama's bus because that's where you're going to end up. Opposition will not be tolerated.

    March 31, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  23. Republican comedy

    All respect for Kaine is lost

    March 31, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  24. Al, NY NY

    Oh well, I guess there goes some jobs at the lab.....

    March 31, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  25. Cystem Phailure

    Oust the guy. He can think whatever he wants, but he shouldn't be the Chair of the Democratic National Committee.

    March 31, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
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