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Posted: 10/21/2004 1:04:55 PM EDT
Reeve's Widow Endorses Kerry

Took a little longer than expected. Anybody care to check the phone records for a more than 10 minute call from a Kerry office to Ms. Reeve?

Christopher Reeve's Widow Endorses Kerry

By MARY DALRYMPLE, Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites) on Thursday accused President Bush (news - web sites) of slowing scientific advancement after earning a special endorsement from the widow of actor Christopher Reeve, a proponent of the embryonic stem cell research on which the president has placed limits.

"The American people deserve a president who understands that when America invests in science and technology, we can build a stronger economy and create jobs for the 21st century," Kerry said during a campaign rally. "But George Bush (news - web sites) has literally ... turned his back on the spirit of exploration and discovery."

Reeve's widow, Dana, said her family has been grieving privately since her husband died Oct. 10. "My inclination would be to remain private for a good long while," she said. "But I came here today in support of John Kerry because this is so important. This is what Chris wanted."

Reeve had lived as a paraplegic since a riding accident in 1995. He had become an advocate for medical research and believed studying embryonic stem cells might unlock lifesaving cures and treatments, Dana Reeve said.

"His heart was full of hope, and he imagined living in a world where politics would never get in the way of hope," she said.

The Kerry campaign said Dana Reeve approached the Massachusetts senator about making what probably would be her only campaign appearance. Another Kerry supporter, former Vice President Al Gore (news - web sites), has been asked to campaign this weekend in Florida, where he is seen as a symbol of an election many Democrats believe the GOP stole from them.

In his remarks at the rally, Kerry said scientific innovation needs political support and that Bush, beholden to special interests, refuses to make investments that benefited everyone.

"On the other hand, he has an extreme political agenda that slows instead of advances science," Kerry said.

In addition to stem cell research, Kerry wants to invest in manufacturing and biotechnology, spur automobile innovations and urge students to go into science with education benefits.

Kerry knew the "Superman" actor for about 15 years through family and activist connections. Reeve left him a long telephone message the day before he died, thanking him for campaigning on behalf of medical research.

His death has since reverberated on the campaign trail, as Kerry battles Bush over the ethics of stem cell research using embryos. Bush restricted federally funded research to lines already existing before his 2001 executive order, a decision criticized by some scientists and research advocates.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican and a heart surgeon, said Thursday that Kerry is wrong when he criticizes the Bush administration and its support of science.

"John Kerry showed today that as the election nears he is not interested in the facts and will say or do anything to gain him a political edge, regardless of the truth," Frist said. "He accused this administration of neglecting science, when President Bush has increase federal research and development funding by 44 percent."

Earlier this month, Frist accused Kerry and running mate John Edwards (news - web sites) of "shamefully trying to use the death of people like Christopher Reeve to promote falsehoods and dishonesty" about Bush's position on stem cell research. The Bush administration points out that he is the first president to provide funding specifically for stem cell research.

Edwards invoked the actor at a campaign event when he said, "If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."
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