by Steven Ertelt
October 19, 2004
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — In a blow to opponents of a proposal that would spend billions of dollars on unproven embryonic stem cell research, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed Proposition 71 yesterday.
"We daringly led the way for the high-tech industry and now voters can help ensure we lead the way for the bio-tech industry," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "Even though I haven’t come out publicly, I have been very open about that I am very much interested in stem cell research and support it 100%."
Schwarzenegger had previously not taken a position on the proposal, which has a slight lead in state polls.
Opponents of the proposal cite the state’s fiscal crisis as one reason for the opposition to the measure, which has a $6 billion dollar price tag. They say Schwarzenegger is contradicting himself by advocating fiscally responsible policies and backing Proposition 71.
One pro-life state lawmaker mentioned those concerns in reacting to the endorsement.
"The state’s borrowing is already completely out of control," state Sen. Tom McClintock (R) told the Los Angeles Times. "This measure makes our future problems substantially worse. It might be highly commendable, but it is wildly irresponsible."
Tod Tamberg, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said the governor was too quick to back the research and should have given more though to the ethical concerns.
Tamberg said the billions could be better spent on helping to provide health care for California residents.
Schwarzenegger’s support for the measure also puts him at odds with the state’s Republican Party, which opposes it, and President Bush, who has prohibited federal funding of any new research that destroys human embryos.
According to a Los Angeles Times report, the governor seemed to be unconcerned with the political fallout, and attempting to stake out a moderate position.
"The Republican Party goes all the way from the right to the center, as much as the Democratic Party goes from the center to the left," Schwarzenegger said, adding, "I think I’m much more in the center."
The Yes on 71 campaign, which has a multimillion dollar war chest, has begun running ads, some of which feature actor Michael J. Fox.
Wayne Johnson, a spokesman for a group of taxpayers and doctors opposed to the embryonic stem cell research proposal, says the support for the measure should be higher given the millions spent promoting it.
"These are outstanding numbers for us," he told the Bee. "Now is when they should be getting out front. You can’t turn on the television without seeing their spots."
Johnson said many voters will flinch when they see the $6 billion price tag for the destructive research. California is still battling tough economic times and the state government remains in a fiscal crisis
According to the California Field Poll of likely voters, support for Proposition 71 has increased to a 46 to 39 percent margin. The 7 point advantage is a shift from the three point lead the same poll found in August showing 45 percent in support and 42 percent of California residents opposed.