A Florida-based evangelical group has launched a weeklong advertising campaign in Iowa bashing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for his "tragic and grave error" in backing expanded stem cell research.
"We know Iowa is a way to get everybody's attention," said Gary Cass, head of the Center for Reclaiming America. "Our hope is Senator Frist will hear from Iowans and they are kind of a bellwether state in the heartland."
Cass said the ads began airing Thursday on television stations in the Des Moines area and on local radio stations around the state. They will run for about a week.
The group is spending about $50,000 initially but could expand the campaign if additional money is raised. Besides the ads, Cass said e-mails went to 500,000 social conservatives.
"We believe that everybody is concerned to hear from the conservative constituents of Iowa," said Cass.
The commercials are hard-hitting.
"Senator Frist: we cannot save innocent lives by destroying them," an announcer says over a picture of a smiling baby. "Tell Senator Frist to stand with President Bush and oppose research that destroys human embryos."
Nick Smith, a spokesman for Frist, said the senator "understands that there are many opinions on this issue and he respects those opinions. However, after long thought, he has made his decision based on principle and believes it holds great promise in helping many people."
Frist angered many social conservatives when he took to the Senate floor to endorse legislation providing federal funding for expanded stem cell research.
"Senator Frist made a tragic and grave error in endorsing public funding of research that destroys human life," said Cass.