Q The Republican Party appears to be moving away from this President on this issue. How does he react to that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that there are many Americans that share the President’s view that we need to continue to explore and advance science, but we need to make sure that we maintain ethical standards. As I said, these are decisions that have far-reaching consequences. And that’s why the President worked to find common ground on this difficult issue.
Q Okay, let me just interrupt. Most Americans —
MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on, hang on.
Q Most Americans don’t support the President’s decision, according to polls.
MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on. This is a difficult issue. The President recognized that when he made his decision back in 2001. The President has always worked to try to find common ground on difficult issues.
The decision that the President made was addressing taxpayer dollars. The President does not believe we should be using taxpayer dollars for — or to support the further destruction of human life. That’s where he set the line. Now, there’s no prohibition on the private sector research that goes on. There are a lot of lines that are now available so that we can move forward on the basic research.
Q As an individual, does he support the private research that’s going forward on embryonic stem cells?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President — the decision he made was relating to taxpayer money.
Q I understand that. I’m asking if as an individual —
MR. McCLELLAN: And the President is someone who believes we shouldn’t be creating life for the sole purpose of destroying it. And he stated that position.
Q Separate issue.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that addresses your question.
Q One factual thing here. Well, let me just get an answer to this first part. The fact is that the Republican Party is moving away from this President, and there is a feeling that Senator Frist articulated today that, in effect, the President is stuck in a 2001 decision when the science is passing him by.
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, I’m going to disagree with you right now on saying the Republican Party is moving away. The Republican Party is united and moving forward to implement important priorities for the American people. This week has been one of the most successful weeks —
Q On stem cell — I’m talking about this issue.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, you made a general statement that they’re moving away.
Q No, no, I meant on this issue. I meant on this issue.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, but let me talk about this issue, because some of you in this room, and some of your colleagues, two months ago, were saying that this President is facing lame duck status, that we can’t get things done that —
Q Let’s not divert off of that, Scott. I was specific to this issue. Let’s not get off on that.
MR. McCLELLAN: Of course, you don’t want to talk about it.
Q That was your opening statement, you had time about that. No, the Republicans support you on any number of things, I can list them —
MR. McCLELLAN: You don’t want to talk about it.
Q I’d love to talk about it, let’s lengthen the briefing, but one question about —
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not going anywhere.
You know those movies where lions are taking apart a gazelle and the narrator’s telling you exactly which organs they’re ripping out and in what order? This is sort of like that:
Q I have a follow-up and then another question. You’ve said that the President does not support the further destruction of human life through creating new embryonic stem cell lines. Does he think it should be criminal to destroy frozen embryos that are not used in fertility clinics?
MR. McCLELLAN: Jessica, no, this is relating to the taxpayer dollars. That’s the President’s decision.
Q But if the President believes that’s the destruction of life, why doesn’t he make an effort to oppose it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Jessica, the decision that he made was relating to taxpayer dollars. He’s the President, and this is taxpayer money. This is federal funding.
Q So what should happen to the 400,000-plus frozen embryos that are sitting in fertility banks not being used, waiting to be thrown out?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in fact, he just had an event a short time ago, talking about how there are embryo adoption families, people that can adopt these embryos and —
Q But that’s a nominal — nominal — number compared to the hundreds of thousands of embryos —
The whole thing really is a treat today.