A. I do not want to make this a political issue. We have Sen. Pruitt, a conservative Republican. We have Bill Frist in the United States Senate. We have Orrin Hatch, a conservative. It's a Democrat and Republican issue, it's a humanitarian issue. It's not a political issue.
Q. But the fact remains that Gov. Bush, whatever party he's in, has been a very strong opponent. Do you think that opposition will be as strong with him gone next year?
Missouri, a conservative state, 64 percent of Missourians want embryonic stem cell research. Certainly, we haven't taken a poll here, but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that most Floridians would want embryonic stem cell research.
It's a thing of the future. And here we are spending almost $1 billion bringing Scripps here. We want to find cures. Why tie the scientists' hands behind their backs? You know that they just formed a group in California -- Scripps and Salk and the University of California and Burnham -- to do embryonic stem cell research.
So I'm going forward, and I would hope that maybe by November, we'll see some signs that people may follow Sen. Pruitt and Sen. Klein. Maybe we won't have to change our Constitution, but follow other states such as California and New Jersey and Illinois and Wisconsin and many other states that are funding embryonic stem cell research.
Q. Are you worried about the corresponding campaign for a constitutional amendment barring stem cell funding?
A. Not at all. It's only a small group of people who do not want stem cell research. Remember, all the people who are supporting us are from all different religions. This should not be a religious issue. Religion should never stand in the way of science.
Q. What makes you so passionate about this issue?
A. I hate to see people suffer. I can wrap it up in that one statement. There's not a person that I know that doesn't have somebody that they know and love that does not have Parkinson's or Alzheimer's or heart disease or cancer.
Take our veterans, brave men and women who are going over to Iraq and Afghanistan today. Many of them, because of these bombs, are going to come back in wheelchairs with spinal cord injury. In the University of California at Irvine, they crushed the spine of mice and they put a human cell in -- whatever they do, I'm not a scientist -- and those mice were walking again in four months. If we can have mice walking again in four months, why not give them the best possible chance to save these young men and women, as well as others?
Q. So do you feel this could be your legacy?
A. If I had one legacy to leave, it would be embryonic stem cell research passing and the state funding it and Scripps or another institute find the cure right here in Florida. Embryonic stem cell research is happening all over the world. It's in Israel. It's in Malaysia. It's in Singapore.
I had a man come speak to me. He said, "I'm a wealthy man. I'm 70 years old. The doctors told me I'm dying of cancer, I'm going to be dead in two years. But they found out that in Israel they can do something for me, an embryonic stem cell treatment. I'm on my way there. I'm going to take my family. I'm going to live there. It's going to cost me $200,000 to $300,000. What happens to people who don't have money and can't go to Israel?"
Q. There's been a lot of hubbub lately over Irv Slosberg's campaign for the state Senate. What do you think about allegations that he's trying to divide the party?
A. Slosberg has said he wants his team up there. I want a Democratic team up there that's performed for the constituents. I think Richard Machek has done a wonderful job. So has Anne Gannon, Susan Bucher, Mary Brandenburg and so on. For another Democrat to try to recruit people to come in to run against them to me is absolutely dividing the party.
Down here we have worked in unison. I believe the party is more important than the person. Richard Machek is probably our most knowledgeable legislator when it comes to water, which is so important down here. And for Irv to recruit someone from Coral Springs to run against him to me is unconscionable.
Q. What started all this?
A. I really don't know. I guess maybe the best way to say it is the quest for power.
Q. So given your concerns, do you plan to endorse Slosberg's opponent, Ted Deutch?
A. There are many other things that have happened -- the situation with Robert Wexler -- and I am weighing this very heavily.