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Inside Politics

Democrats give Ron Reagan prime time speaking slot

Kerry aide: Late president's son to address stem cell research

From Kelly Wallace

Ron Reagan will speak at the Democratic National Convention.
John F. Kerry
Ronald Wilson Reagan
John Edwards

(CNN) -- Ron Reagan will speak in prime time at the Democratic National Convention on the importance of stem cell research, a senior adviser to presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry told CNN on Sunday.

The Kerry adviser, who did not want to be identified, said the appearance of the younger son of the late former President Ronald Reagan came about after "overtures were made by both sides -- friends of both."

The adviser did not say on which night Reagan, 46, will speak. The four-day convention kicks off July 26 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ron Reagan, a self-described liberal whose political views were often at odds with his conservative Republican father, has said publicly that he does not support President Bush's re-election.

Reagan raised eyebrows during his father's burial service in June when he said in his eulogy that his father "never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians, wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage."

Many observers thought the remark was aimed at Bush, who often speaks publicly of the role faith plays in his life.

Reagan later told CNN that he did not set out to take a dig at Bush, though after so many other people made that connection, "I began to think maybe I was. I just didn't know it."

Bush has limited the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research, citing moral and ethical concerns about performing experiments with fertilized human embryos.

Proponents of such research insist those restrictions interfere with efforts to develop new treatments for a variety of diseases, including Alzheimer's, which slowly killed the former president.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan has also called on Bush to reverse course on his stem cell policy.

A Bush campaign official said it was not surprising that a liberal would be speaking at the Democratic National Convention, and noted that Democratic Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia would speak at the Republican National Convention, which begins August 30 in New York City.

The Kerry adviser said Reagan's appearance at the convention would communicate to the American people that the Democratic ticket of Kerry and Sen. John Edwards "won't put ideology in front of sound science and let politics get in the way of what is best for the American people."

The adviser also said Reagan's speech would have "big appeal" to independents.

But the Bush campaign official predicted that the remarks by Miller -- who supported key parts of Bush's agenda -- would resonate more with independents.

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