Steele's Stem Cell Storm--Updated
Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's remark yesterday comparing embryonic stem cell research to Nazi experimentation during the Holocaust reverberated through Maryland politics today.
Hounded by reporters on campaign stops in Prince George's County, he said:
"I offended members of the Jewish community and members of the Maryland community. It was a remark that was an improper inference because I never specifically said Holocaust. It was an inference in putting two parts of a conversation together and it did not reflect my attitude and my belief. And I am really sorry about the whole thing."
One of his potential Democratic rivals in the U.S. Senate race, Congressman Ben Cardin, held a news conference this morning to decry Steele's comments. Another Democratic candidate, Lise Van Susteren, challenged Steele to a debate on the topic.
The offending remark came in response to a question about embryonic stem cell research which Steele, a devout, pro-life Catholic, opposes on moral grounds:
"Look, you, of all folks, know what happens when people decide they want to experiment on human beings, when they want to take your life and use it as a tool," Steele told the group of about 35 Jewish leaders and other guests, according to a tape recording of his remarks
Hamil Harris and Matt Mosk
The comment provoked a strong reponse on the National Jewish Democratic Council's blog
Steele said to reporters at a Prince George's nursing home: "We will move on from here. I have issued a personal apology to the Baltimore Jewish Council as well as to [executive director] Art Abramson. I have talked to some of the national Jewish leaders as well out of Washington, and I extended my personal apology to them because it is not my heart, it is not my head. It is not what I believe and it is certainly something that I would not condone or would asked someone else to condone."
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