UPDATE BELOW: Stem cell research advocate Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) responds.
In a new ad likely meant to burnish John McCain's "maverick," Republican-bucking political identity, his campaign is touting his intention to support stem-cell research.
The ad, which calls the McCain-Palin ticket "the original mavericks," claims that the duo will partner with "congressional allies" to "improve America's health" with the benefits of the controversial medical research, which centers on the use of human embryonic stem cells -- an idea which angers some pro-life advocates -- including Sarah Palin.
Thus, unless she has recently changed her position, John McCain will find himself without Palin's help should he become president and tackle this issue. In a profile published right after her election as governor, the Anchorage Daily News noted that Palin was the only candidate in the race not to promote stem cell research.
"Unlike Palin, Knowles and Halcro both support abortion rights, stem cell research, benefits for same-sex couples and a rural preference for subsistence hunting and fishing rights," the paper wrote at the time. The Boston Herald has also noted the difference between McCain and his running mate on this particular issue.
Palin isn't the only Republican that might make it difficult for McCain to carry out this promise. It was Republicans in the Senate who helped President Bush sustain a veto of legislation that would have advanced stem cell research. Moreover, the 2008 GOP platform actually calls for a "ban on all embryonic stem-cell research, public or private."
Interestingly, last week, Sen. Joe Biden was castigated by McCain's campaign for describing Palin's opposition to stem cell research in the same breath as mentioning her Down Syndrome child. Look for the Obama campaign to question whether misrepresenting her position on the issue is any more honorable.
UPDATE: Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), paralyzed at the age of 16 while working with the Warwick, RI police department, responds to McCain's ad:
"While it's good that that Senator McCain says he supports stem cell research, It would be far better for the millions of Americans awaiting new cures if he had shown leadership when it really mattered: when he chose his running mate and when he failed to marshal his allies to override the President's veto.
I believe that we can conquer juvenile diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. I believe that I -- along with hundreds of thousands of other people with spinal cord injuries -- will walk again some day. But it won't happen without real leadership from our next President, and John McCain has failed that test. There's only one team in this race with a real commitment to expanding stem cell research, and that's Barack Obama and Joe Biden."
The ad script:
ANNCR: They're the original mavericks. Leaders. Reformers. Fighting for real change.
John McCain will lead his Congressional allies to improve America's health.
Stem cell research to unlock the mystery of cancer, diabetes, heart disease.
Stem cell research to help free families from the fear and devastation of illness.
Stem cell research to help doctors repair spinal cord damage, knee injuries, serious burns.
Stem cell research to help stroke victims.
And, John McCain and his Congressional allies will invest millions more in new NIH medical research to prevent disease.
Medical breakthroughs to help you get better, faster.
Change is coming.
McCain-Palin and Congressional allies.
The leadership and experience to really change Washington and improve your health.
Paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee.
JOHN MCCAIN: I'm John McCain and I approved this message.