McCain's New Stem Cell Ad: Maverick is Back

John McCain is airing a new ad on stem cell research:

Republican presidential nominee John McCain debuted a radio ad Friday designed to declare his unequivocal support for stem cell research.

McCain voted in the Senate to expand federal funding for the controversial research but Democrats and advocates of the science have expressed concern that McCain’s support has wavered.

Not so, according to the radio spot and a McCain spokesman. The ad does not specifically refer to embryonic research, which is opposed by most politicians and activists who, like McCain, do not support abortion rights.

The omission is not a signal that McCain is backing away from his record in favor of embryonic stem cell research, spokesman Brian Rogers said.

The ad is on YouTube:

Prior to selecting Sarah Palin and solidifying conservative support, McCain had tread lightly on issues important to conservatives. As he did so, he heard plenty of criticism from Democrats eager to paint him not as Maverick, but as Bush II. On immigration and now on stem cells, he clearly feels comfortable angering the base. Conservatives in turn, have come awfully far from where they were 6 months ago with regard to McCain. Back then, most felt some disdain for the nominee who had angered them in the past and seemed a sure loser in the future. Now he looks like he might be the winning horse. And in Sarah Palin, conservatives have a clear stake in McCain’s success.

Politically, it’ll probably work for McCain. Not many Republicans will back Obama — no matter what happens. And it gives undecideds one more reason to believe he won’t be the same as George Bush. But if McCain wins, it presages some intramural fights down the road.