john kerry to make science a priority

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    Kerry says he'll make science a priority
    Friday, October 22, 2004
    Julie Carr Smyth
    Plain Dealer Bureau

    Columbus- Flanked by space hero John Glenn and the widow of stem-cell research crusader Christopher Reeve, Sen. John Kerry pledged Thursday that he would be "a president who believes in science."

    "This moment in history is too important, the opportunities before us are too great, for America to trust a president who himself doesn't trust science," the Democratic presidential nominee told an enthusiastic crowd of 1,200 gathered at the Atheneum in downtown Columbus.

    Kerry blasted President Bush for promoting an "extreme ideological agenda" that has failed to make technology and innovation a priority in favor of catering to foreign oil and corporate special interests.

    He said Bush has proposed cuts to government-funded research, blocked future embryonic stem-cell research and supported tax policies that export technology jobs overseas.

    "You get the feeling that if George Bush had been president during other periods in American history, he would have sided with the candle lobby over electricity, the buggy-makers over cars, and typewriter companies against computers," Kerry said. The Bush campaign challenged Kerry's facts.

    Campaign spokesman Kevin Madden said Bush has increased money for research by 44 percent and devotes a higher proportion of discretionary money to research and development than any president in 37 years.

    He said Bush is the first president to devote federal money to the type of embryonic stem-cell research that Kerry and Dana Reeve - who appeared at the senator's rally just 11 days after her husband's death - support.

    "John Kerry has displayed a wanton disregard for the facts with his misleading rhetoric on stem-cell research," Madden said. He said that while Bush doesn't support destroying additional embryos for research, the president has increased research money for non-embryonic cells by 132 percent.

    Bush will return to Ohio today, after a nearly three-week absence, to give a talk in Canton on health care and medical liability.

    Kerry, in a speech filled with references to another Massachusetts Democrat, John F. Kennedy, said Bush lacks the "political imagination" to return the country to a position of scientific leadership.

    Kerry outlined a four-point plan for fostering science:

    Invest in advanced manufacturing, biotechnology and nanotechnology, as well as "curiosity-driven, high-risk research."

    Promote careers in science, through tax credits on college tuition, incentives to higher-education institutions for graduating math, technology and science majors, and school-age programs to encourage interest, including all-girls math and science schools.

    Lift the ban on federal financing of new embryonic stem-cell research, and make paying for it a priority.

    Reduce dependence on foreign oil, through development of alternative energy sources and tax credits to automakers to retool their plants for making more fuel-efficient cars. He pledged 20 percent of fuel and 20 percent of electricity would come from alternative sources by 2020.

    In a clear nod to the state believed crucial to a presidential win, Kerry named Ohio in his speech as a hotbed of scientific discovery, from aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright, Neil Armstrong and Glenn to the inventors of the traffic light and the compact disc.

    The star power of Glenn, who has been campaigning nonstop with Kerry in recent days, shone when the former Ohio senator and astronaut said Kerry could lead the country in a time of war.

    "Let's just say this: I will be very comfortable with John Kerry as my commander in chief," said Glenn, rousing the cheering crowd to its feet.

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