Republican officials declared, in a memo that was supposed to be seen only by senators, that they believe the Schiavo case "is a great political issue" that could pay dividends with Christian conservatives, whose support is essential in midterm elections such as those coming up in 2006.We now know that story is mostly a hoax, apparently perpetrated by Democratic Senator Tom Harkin or his staff. Republican officials did not declare anything, or send any memo to any Republican senators. There was a pro-Schiavo memo that was written by a Republican staffer that said:
A one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators by party leaders, said the debate over Schiavo would appeal to the party's base, or core, supporters. The memo singled out Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is up for reelection next year and is potentially vulnerable in a state President Bush won last year.
This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue.These were routine talking points. The pro-lifers do believe that there should be an honest and open debate about life-and-death issues, and indeed excited about the Schiavo case drawing attention to issues of importance to them.
This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats.