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Kerry promotes science, technology as job engines

Joined in Ohio by John Glenn and Christopher Reeve's widow


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John Kerry speaks on science and innovation on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio.
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNN) -- Sen. John Kerry vowed Thursday to embrace science and technology as a way to fuel job growth if he beats incumbent President Bush in the November 2 election.

The Massachusetts senator promoted a long list of advantages that embracing science and technology would bring.

"There is no issue more fundamental to creating the good jobs of the future, to curing disease, to making America independent of Mideast oil, to giving us our security in our own hands, no issue more fundamental to educating the next generation of scientists than our investments in science now," Kerry said at the Columbus Athenaeum.

"As president, I will make science and technology a priority for this country once again."

Introducing Kerry at the event were former astronaut John Glenn, who was a longtime U.S. senator from Ohio, and Dana Reeve, widow of actor Christopher Reeve, who died earlier this month after being paralyzed 9.5 years.

The actor and his wife had long been vocal supporters of stem cell research, which was one of the key points of Kerry's speech.

The Reeves believed such research could be the key to reversing the damage from spinal cord injuries as well as to finding cures for diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Christopher Reeve died October 10 of heart failure brought on by complications of his paralysis.

"I've been grieving privately the past week and a half," Dana Reeve told the audience. "My inclination would be, frankly, to remain private for a good long while. But I came here today in support of John Kerry because this is so important."

She added, "I'm here today because John Kerry, like Christopher Reeve, believes in keeping our hope alive."

Kerry accused Bush of stifling stem cell research, saying the president "has an extreme ideological agenda that slows rather than advances science."

"You get the feeling, my friends, you really get this feeling, that if George Bush had been president during other periods in American history, he would have sided with the candle lobby against electricity, he would have been with the buggy makers against cars, and with the typewriter companies against computers," Kerry said.

The Bush campaign said Kerry is misleading the public on the stem cell research issue, saying the president announced the first-ever federal funding of stem cell research in August 2001.

"It is wrong to tell scientists that they can't cross the frontiers of new knowledge," Kerry said. "It's wrong morally and it's wrong economically, and when I am president, we will change this policy -- and we will lead the world in stem cell research."

Kerry also spoke about technology and innovation in other areas, such as renewable energy sources.

"We'll give automakers tax credits to retool their plants so they can build the fuel-efficient cars of the future, and we're going to make sure that alternative energy sources will account for 20 percent of our fuel and 20 percent of our electricity by 2020," he promised.

"I believe it's high time we had an America that relied on its own energy ingenuity -- and not the Saudi royal family," Kerry said.

He also pledged to offer tax credits on tuition so more Americans could go to college, to close the gap on math and engineering achievement between the United States and the rest of the world by supporting all-girls math and science schools, and to give colleges financial incentives to turn out more graduates with degrees in science, technology and mathematics.

Kerry adviser Mike McCurry said the candidate's themed speeches are part of a strategy to reach voters who are just tuning in to the presidential race and who may not be aware of Kerry's vision and ideas.

Friday, the candidate will address equal pay for women, and on Sunday, faith and values.


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