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Missouri compromised

"Missouri compromised" Continued...

Issue: "Too close to call," Oct. 28, 2006

"A number of the alternatives involve cloning something that is not an embryo but it could be close enough to it," Talent told WORLD. "The changing technology convinced me that we had the wrong basic structure for how a ban ought to be written. That what we needed was an administrative ban that we could update according to changing technology, rather than freezing a criminal law ban with those definitions in the statute." How did Brownback, a fellow pro-life conservative and Talent's roommate in Washington, D.C., take the news?

"Sam was very understanding," Talent said. "I don't want to speak for Sam, but you know there are differences within the pro-life movement about the status of altered nuclear transfer, and there are some people who don't want to do altered nuclear transfer. . . . This is an in-house debate that I think we do need to resolve at some point."

Altered nuclear transfer is not the only hairline dividing Republicans in the stem-cell debate. At home in Missouri, many traditionally pro-life Republicans, including Gov. Matt Blunt, support the stem-cell amendment Talent opposes. A SurveyUSA poll released Oct. 10 showed 57 percent of Missourians supported the amendment, 27 percent opposed it, and 16 percent were undecided. Talent has tried to overcome the Republican divisions caused by stem cells by redirecting attention to issues around which all conservatives can rally.

"One of the huge issues is who stands for Missouri's common-sense conservative values," Talent said when asked if the stem-cell amendment was the defining issue of this election. "It's bigger than any one issue. It's the marriage amendment, which I supported and my opponent doesn't. It's also the ban on partial-birth abortions. I mean, she's never stood for prenatal life under any circumstances. . . . She didn't support the confirmation of [U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel] Alito, and of course I did. There's just a whole series of issues where I've stood up because I believe in them."

Out on the campaign trail, Talent has to do more than muster conservatives who might disagree with him on stem cells and cloning. He also has to woo swing voters who want to take out their disapproval of the president on Talent. A September SurveyUSA poll showed the president's approval rating among Missourians was rising but still low at 41 percent.

Voters surveyed in a USA Today/Gallup poll in September named the war in Iraq, the economy, terrorism, health care, and education among the issues they thought Congress should address. Talent's main message in October, however, which he repeated in a stump speech to St. Louis Republicans, an interview with WORLD, and a Meet the Press debate with McCaskill, focused on his bipartisan record on issues such as renewable energy and controlling methamphetamines. The only top issue from the Gallup poll he regularly brought up was immigration, on which he and Bush disagree.

Meanwhile, McCaskill has hammered Talent with a statistic from Congressional Quarterly stating he has voted with the White House 94 percent of the time. When Tim Russert challenged him with that statistic on Meet the Press, Talent replied, "Why don't they ever say in those surveys that the president agreed with me a certain percentage of the time? I've been in public life a lot longer than he has. When I went into Congress, I think he was still running the Texas Rangers."

A week later, a poll by major television stations in Missouri showed McCaskill had gained the edge on Talent 51 percent to 42 percent. Technically, that puts Talent within the margin of error to tie McCaskill, but not to take the lead.

Lynde Langdon
Lynde Langdon

Lynde lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. She holds degrees from the University of Missouri in journalism, Russian, and business administration. She is in a long-term, committed relationship with the Lutheran church. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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