As the hour of his much-anticipated announcement approached, however, both sides sought to give the president some last-minute advice.
"If the president comes out with [a] decision short of the one that we hope he will make, it will be my expectation that we will schedule legislation sometime this fall … to fully fund stem-cell research," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., told reporters on Capitol Hill.
"To the president we say, 'Do not reduce human life to laboratory rats.' To the president we say, 'Do not use human life to fulfill scientific experiment,'" the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said at a demonstration outside the White House.
Mahoney said if the president has decided to abandon the position he took during the 2000 campaign, "he is writing his own script for being a one-term president — Mr. Bush will lose a major constituency."
Key Supporter ‘Comfortable’ With Bush Decision
The issue had divided the president's political party as well as many of his own advisers. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson was a strong supporter of stem-cell research as governor of Wisconsin and had urged the president to approve federal funding. But chief political adviser Karl Rove warned Bush that doing so risked alienating his conservative political base as well as many Catholics, a key group of swing voters.
Thompson appeared to suggest today that Bush has not decided to ban federal funding.
"I'm fairly comfortable with the decision that the president is going to make," he said in an interview with ABCNEWS' Good Morning America. "And I'm confident that the American people will be as well."
Administration officials said previously that Bush had been exploring a possible compromise on the issue — a policy that would allow funding for the controversial research, but with certain restrictions.
Bush's most comprehensive remarks so far on stem-cell research came during his trip to Europe last month.
"I take this issue very seriously, because it is an issue that, on the one hand, deals with so much hope — hope that perhaps through research and development we'll be able to save lives," he said at a July 23 news conference in Rome."[But,] it's also an issue that has got serious moral implications."
Bush will make his announcement tonight from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he is spending the bulk of a monthlong working vacation.