Politics & Policy

Does Gephardt Have a Clone?

The presidential contender ought to review his cloning videotape.

Which way will Dick Gephardt come down on human cloning when the House takes it up this week? It might depend on the way the wind is blowing.

A recent entrant into the Democratic presidential-candidate ring, Missouri Democrat Dick Gephardt has a history of having it both ways when it comes to cloning. On Thursday, the House of Representatives will debate two bans on human cloning — one half baked, the other comprehensive; perhaps Gephardt might consider some of his past statements on the issue before he votes.

On NBC’s Meet the Press during August of 2001 — three weeks after the House last voted (and passed) the Weldon-Stupak cloning ban (same one they vote on again this Thursday) — in the process of answering a question on embryonic-stem-cell research (then the issue of the hour), Rep. Gephardt told host Tim Russert: “Obviously, we don’t want cloning. Nobody is for cloning.”

As if to confirm that viewers hadn’t misheard, without prompting, Gephardt emphasized about a minute later: “We passed a law saying no cloning and I think that’s the law that we ought to follow.”

His use of “we” is curious considering Gephardt did not vote for the ban; he voted against Weldon-Stupak.

Instead of voting for the real cloning ban, Gephardt voted for a substitute offered by Pennsylvania Republican Jim Greenwood that would have effectively gutted the House ban — allowing for so-called research or therapeutic cloning. The Greenwood amendment, which will also be taken up again in the House this week, is similar to a bogus ban currently sponsored by Utah Republican Orrin Hatch and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein in the Senate.

Let’s get this straight though: Even though he voted against it, Gephardt endorsed the Weldon-Stupak comprehensive, legitimate cloning ban on national television. He should be reminded of this early and often.

If Gephardt includes himself among those who do not want cloning — as he suggested to Tim Russert he does — he should go ahead andlead by voting for the Weldon-Stupak cloning-prohibition bill this week. If for no other reason (principles?), it’ll be a step toward distinguishing himself from the other dwarves in the primary race.


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