A decade after he helped persuade a president to allow funding of some embryonic stem cell research, Tommy Thompson, the former Wisconsin governor and presumptive U.S. Senate candidate, paid a visit to the Vatican on Wednesday to deliver a very different message.

In Rome, Thompson, who is Roman Catholic, portrayed himself as a strong proponent of adult stem cells – cells that aren’t culled from embryos – while appearing to brush aside the embryonic stem cell research he once defended.