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Nobel Winners Back Kerry, Say Bush Ignores Science
By John Whitesides
June 21, 2004

DENVER (Reuters) -- Democrat John Kerry picked up the endorsement on Monday of 48 Nobel Prize-winning scientists who attacked President Bush for "comprising our future" by shortchanging scientific research.

"The Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy-making that is so important to our collective welfare," the 48 scientists, who have won Nobels in chemistry, physics and medicine dating back to 1967, said in an open letter released by the Democratic presidential candidate's campaign.

The scientists, who included 2003 chemistry winners Peter Agre and Roderick MacKinnon, accused the Bush administration of undermining America's future by reducing funding for science and turning away scientific talent with restrictive immigration policies.

"John Kerry will change all this," they said. "John Kerry will restore science to its appropriate place in government."

Kerry, on his first public campaign visit to Colorado, told supporters at a rainy rally in a downtown Denver park that the United States was losing its scientific lead over other nations. He promised to put the country once again "at the forefront of scientific discovery."

The Massachusetts senator argued that greater technological innovation could transform the economy, creating jobs, cleaner energy and medical advances.

"We need a president who will again embrace the tradition of looking toward the future and new discoveries with hope based on scientific facts, not fear," Kerry said, citing his plans to lift barriers to stem cell research, a move Bush has opposed.

Bush came under renewed pressure on the stem cell issue after the death of former President Ronald Reagan, who suffered from a disease, Alzheimer's, that might be cured or treated with stem-cell therapy.

The Bush campaign fired back at Kerry, saying America was the world's scientific leader and the president had boosted research and development funding.

"Only John Kerry would declare the country to be in scientific decline on a day when the country's first privately funded space trip is successfully completed," said Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt.


Kerry hopes to make Colorado, which traditionally leans Republican and supported Bush in 2000, a battleground this year. He has run ads in the state and hopes Democratic Senate candidate Ken Salazar will boost Hispanic voter turnout.

Bush welcomed Kerry to Colorado by airing a new radio ad criticizing what it called his economic pessimism and touting Bush's leadership and the state's falling unemployment rate.

Before his speech in Denver, Kerry attended a fund-raising luncheon in Aspen that raised $500,000. Kerry was greeted at the Aspen airport by legendary wild man author Hunter S. Thompson, inventor of "gonzo" journalism -- the reporting of facts from a personal perspective.

The two, who have met before, rode together in Kerry's motorcade to the mountainside home of airline leasing executive and major Democratic donor Michael Goldberg.

"How does this sound? Vice President Hunter Thompson," joked Kerry, who is pondering his choice of a vice presidential running mate. "Do you feel better?"

Kerry brought along three copies of "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail," Thompson's book about the 1972 presidential campaign, for the author to autograph.

Looking ahead to the fall debates with Bush, Kerry appointed lawyer and Clinton administration veteran Vernon Jordan as his chief negotiator on details of the debates. Three debates are tentatively scheduled, but details including length and format are open to negotiation.

- Additional reporting by Patricia Wilson

Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Posted: June 28, 2004


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