by Steven Ertelt
March 22, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The mammoth race for the Republican nomination for president will likely get another official candidate in the coming weeks. Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson announced an exploratory bid in January but says he will likely make it official soon.
Thompson has drawn support from the pro-life community over the years for his strong stance opposing abortion and in favor of abstinence education, but he’s received criticism for supporting taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.
The former director of the Department of Health and Services told CNN this week that he has been working on his "ground game" in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two early primary states, and he will go for broke in those two states attempting to secure the bid.
Speaking Tuesday on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” Thompson said he’s not worried about national polls showing him in single digits well behind the leaders.
He indicated he hoped his regional name recognition will help him gain traction in Iowa.
“Who can win Iowa and who’s the closest one to Iowa?” Thompson asked. “Who’s spending the time there? Who’s organizing the grassroots and who’s got the best campaign team going?”
According to Congressional Quarterly, Thompson is expected to make his official campaign announcement on April 4 in Des Moines.
As Wisconsin’s governor, Thompson signed an unborn victims bill into law that made it a separate crime to injure or kill an unborn child during a crime against the mother, protecting the unborn child throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy.
However, Thompson has come under fire for his position in favor of embryonic stem cell research.
As HHS Secretary, Thompson defended President Bush’s limits on forcing taxpayers to fund new embryonic stem cell research, but he lobbied the president not to adopt those limits. After Bush announced his policy, in August 2001, Thompson formed a federal task force to promote embryonic stem cell research using the older lines that qualified for funding.
In September 2001, Thompson commented on his position in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He admitted he was worried President Bush would ban embryonic stem cell research altogether.
"I really shouldn’t even be talking about that. I was a counselor to the president and, as you know, I’ve been active in [embryonic] stem cells ever since Jamie Thomson discovered them," Thompson said. "I’ve been very, very supportive of the science. I think it has great potential. I’ll just have to leave it at that. You’ll have to come to your own conclusions. But I was very active."
During his tenure with the Bush administration, Thompson defended President Bush’s strong positions in favor of funding abstinence education.
Thompson launched an investigation in August 2003 to determine whether Advocates for Youth, a sexual education organization, used federal dollars to lobby against abstinence-only education.
In addition to abstinence and stem cell research, Thompson frequently touched on high profile pro-life issues while at the HHS department helm:
In March 2002, the National Cancer Institute‘s web site contained misleading information alleging that researchers found evidence of report bias in studies showing the abortion-breast cancer link. Upon learning of the error, Thompson directed the agency to remove the information.
NCI later adopted a position claiming no abortion-breast cancer link exists.
In 2002, Thompson unveiled a new Bush administration policy allowing unborn children to be covered under the federal-state CHIP program that provides health insurance coverage for children in poor families.
Pro-life groups hailed the decision as another way to help pregnant mothers and reduce the financial factors that compel some women to have abortions.
"Prenatal care is crucial to the health of both mother and child, and this change will allow [states] to offer prenatal care to thousands of additional pregnant mothers and their unborn children," Secretary Thompson said. "Vital services during pregnancy can be a life-long determinant of health and we should do everything possible to make this care available to everyone."
Thompson also pulled the plug on a federal agency’s plan to support an international conference that is backing abortion.
In August 2004, Thompson told the Alabama Health Department that it was not required to distribute the morning-after pill that sometimes causes abortions.