March 5, 2007
Contact:
Leah Yoon, NPR
 | 

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS),
REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL,
TALKS TO NPR NEWS ABOUT GARNERING SUPPORT
FROM THE CONSERVATIVE BASE AS WELL AS BEYOND THE BASE
AS A “BLEEDING HEART CONSERVATIVE”

ON NPR NEWS MORNING EDITION
TODAY, MONDAY, MARCH 5, 2007
AUDIO AVAILABLE AT WWW.NPR.ORG

Senator Brownback on stem cell research:
“You could destroy me today and harvest my body parts and save a number of lives – you know – with my heart, kidneys, liver. Is that a greater good? Now, some might suggest it is, but it just is morally wrong to take one human life for the benefit of another.”


March 5, 2007; Washington, D.C. – In an interview with Renee Montagne airing this morning on NPR News’ Morning Edition, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), a Republican presidential hopeful, discusses his position on the hot button issues of stem cell research and abortion. Senator Brownback, a fiscal conservative, said he thinks he can expand his support beyond conservatives by also emphasizing his position on other social issues such as intervention to stop the genocide in Darfur and preventing international trafficking of women.

When asked if his positions on these hot button issues would garner further support from the conservative base, Sen. Brownback said, “Well, I think they help a lot, but I don’t think they’re enough to overall win. I’m also a bleeding heart conservative. I do a number of things working on human rights issues, prison recidivism rates, and then I also push and have worked a lot on the social issues of rebuilding the family.”

A complete transcript of the interview is below. All excerpts must be credited to NPR News’ Morning Edition. Audio of the interview is available at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7696239.

Morning Edition, the two-hour newsmagazine airing weekdays and hosted by Steve Inskeep in Washington, D.C. and Renée Montagne from NPR West in Culver City, Calif., is public radio’s most listened-to program with nearly 13 million weekly listeners.

-NPR-

RENEE MONTAGNE (intro): The race for the presidency is on ... no matter that the first votes won't be counted until next year. Throughout this Long Campaign, Morning Edition will ... cover the issues, examine what it takes to run for president, and help you get to know the candidates. This morning we will meet one of the longer shots ... Republican Senator Sam Brownback,

So far ... he has the support of only about 1 percent of likely GOP voters. [ according to a Fox news poll Feb 12-14] Yet Sam Brownback thinks more people will get to know his name. He is from the state of Kansas ... a place criticized for its social conservatism in the book "What's the Matter With Kansas?"

Sam Brownback would say nothing is the matter with Kansas. He embraces conservative social issues -- he opposes abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and gay marriage.

Brownback ALSO works hard on subjects liberals embrace ... like stopping the killing of refugees in Darfur.

MONTAGNE: Senator Sam Brownback joins us from his office on Capitol Hill. Thanks very much for joining us.

SENATOR SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS): My pleasure. Good to join you this morning.

MS. MONTAGNE: Now, you are strongly conservative -- a strong, social conservative on what could easily be called the hot-button issues – abortion, stem cell research, gay marriage, fiscally conservative. Are those two sets of positions enough to get the base of the Republican party on board your candidacy?

SEN. BROWNBACK: Well, I think they help a lot, but I don’t think they’re enough to overall win. I’m also a bleeding heart conservative. I do a number of things working on human rights issues, prison recidivism rates, and then I also push and have worked a lot on the social issues of rebuilding the family.

MS. MONTAGNE: And rebuilding the family for you – and I think this is where people have heard of you nationally so far – has to do with your very, very staunch opposition to abortion and to stem cell research.

SEN. BROWNBACK: Well, I think we should defend life. And plus, you just look at human history – any time we’ve ever treated one class of humans as subject to another class or as property, as in the case of when you research on the youngest of humans, we’ve always regretted it. And I believe we’re in a very similar situation today where you treat the youngest of humans as property rather than as a person.

MS. MONTAGNE: And stem cell research, which does involve the destruction of embryos, you’re not at all persuaded by an argument of greater good that could come out of that?

SEN. BROWNBACK: You know, you could destroy me today and harvest my body parts and save a number of lives – you know – with my heart, kidneys, liver. Is that a greater good? Now, some might suggest it is, but it just is morally wrong to take one human life for the benefit of another.

MS. MONTAGNE: Well, considering that these are the sorts of issues that have been coming up and that have – on the other side – a fair number of champions who will argue for stem cell research and many people who believe it’s important for women to be able to control whether or not they have an abortion. When you add this all up, what do you think it says about American culture today in this year, in this time?

SEN. BROWNBACK: Well, I think what it says is that we’ve got a big discussion. I just think you’ve got a society that is really looking at these issues trying to determine which way it’s going to go. It’s also why I bring in the being pro-life but being fully life -- working on issues like human rights and children in Darfur -- because I think we have to stand for life in the womb, but we also have to stand for the young woman that’s in poverty or the guy that is trapped in his own bondage by what he has done in prison. And I’m not for cutting that prison sentence short, but I am for work that we can reduce that prison recidivism. And I think that full definition of life is a much more appealing and broad-based definition that draws a lot more people into it.

MS. MONTAGNE: Now, you converted to Catholicism several years ago. And there is something in the Catholic Church known as the seamless garment, moral consistency. Specifically, how would you describe the common thread of your position?

SEN. BROWNBACK: Well, the common thread of my position is that I believe all human life is sacred, is beautiful, is the child of a living and loving God, period. It is at all stages; it is at all places. It doesn’t matter what that life looks like. It doesn’t matter the nature of that life. It is human and it is therefore sacred and it should be protected and we should fight for it.

MS. MONTAGNE: This has put you here and there in partnership politically with Barack Obama – you have together called for intervention in Darfur against the genocide in Darfur – with Edward Kennedy on the question of North Korea. How do you work with these folks when you’re actually trying to work together when your politics are pretty far apart in other respects?

SEN. BROWNBACK: My experience has been that if I will simply look at the issue, we can work together on a lot of topics. You know, most things people can actually agree on up here. It’s the heat-seeking ones that divide us and divide us aggressively. But I find that there are a lot of topics. One of the best legislative accomplishments I’ve had here on an international basis and on saving lives is the bill we did against human trafficking. And I did that with Paul Wellstone.

MS. MONTAGNE: The late Paul Wellstone.

SEN. BROWNBACK: The late Paul Wellstone who -- he and his wife -- worked aggressively on this. We had a consortium that included Chuck Colson and Gloria Steinem behind this legislation. And it has helped and it has saved lives, and it stopped particularly young women from being trafficked into sexual servitude. That is the sort of thing that we can get done when we look past judging each other and look to the issue of what we can accomplish.

MS. MONTAGNE: Now, let me ask you a question about compromise. One sort of example, the late governor of California, Pat Brown, who was against the death penalty as a Catholic, but he was also a Democrat and a liberal -- but he was against the death penalty personally and morally, and yet he signed off on executions because it was the law. He separated out even his moral position from what he had to do as the representative of those who had voted for him. Taken to other issues such as abortion or stem cell research, if stem cell research was the law and you were president, what would you do?

SEN. BROWNBACK: Well, I’m going to execute the law. I’m a constitutional officer now; I’d be a constitutional officer then. I’m going to comply and do the law. That will not keep me from advocating a different system or a different scenario. But I’m going to comply with the law as a constitutional officer sworn to uphold the constitution.

MS. MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

SEN. BROWNBACK: My pleasure, Renee, all the best.

MS. MONTAGNE: Sam Brownback is the senior senator from Kansas. He spoke to us from his office on Capitol Hill.

(END)