The Bush administration has failed the cause of science by subjugating it to politics, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry said yesterday as he promised to free scientists to pursue their research.
“We need a president who will once again embrace our tradition of looking toward the future and new discoveries with hope based on scientific facts, not fear,” Mr. Kerry said in Denver as he kicked off a week of talking about investing in scientific research. “That’s what presidents are supposed to do.”
President Bush has placated his conservative constituency by having scientific reports edited to omit facts, Mr. Kerry said.
A group of Nobel prize-winning scientists agreed, saying in a letter released by the Kerry campaign that the Bush administration has hurt scientific exploration on a host of fronts, including restricting stem-cell research and ignoring the “scientific consensus” that climate change is occurring.
The scientists also said that Mr. Bush’s immigration policy is “turning critical scientific talent away from our shores.”
“Unlike previous administrations, Republican and Democratic alike, the Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy-making that is so important to our collective welfare,” the scientists wrote.
The group endorsed Mr. Kerry for president, saying they think he “will change all this.”
The 48 scientists, all Nobel laureates, won their prizes in chemistry, medicine and physics. Some have a history of involvement in liberal advocacy, and many of them previously have criticized Bush administration decisions restricting research and on spending.
The campaign sent out a list of instances when it said the president had suppressed or ignored scientific advice, including a report from the U.S. Geological Survey on environmental risks of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and a 2003 Environmental Protection Agency report that extensively discussed the risks of global warming.
Mr. Kerry yesterday also repeated his pledge to dump the restrictions Mr. Bush placed on federal funding for stem-cell research.
“So many Americans have looked at me with tears in their eyes and asked me to help them find a cure for a daughter, a son, a parent who’s suffering from diseases that are controlling their future,” the Massachusetts senator said. “By supporting stem-cell therapy, we have the possibility to control the future.”
Terry Holt, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, said the administration hasn’t held science back.
“t’s ironic that on a day when the world launched the first commercial manned space flight, Kerry would be talking about the battle against science,” Mr. Holt said.
Under the Bush administration, research and development funding has increased 44 percent, Mr. Holt said. The budget for the National Institutes of Health has been doubled, and the National Science Foundation budget increased 30 percent.
“John Kerry just doesn’t get it. You don’t take science as a couple of pet projects but as a long-term way to keep America going forward,” he said.
In another Colorado campaign event yesterday, Mr. Kerry raised $500,000 in a fund-raiser at the home of Michael Goldberg, president of Aerolease International.
Mr. Kerry invited writer Hunter S. Thompson to ride in his motorcade and brought three copies of Mr. Thompson’s book about the 1972 presidential race, “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail.”
“Just to put your minds all at ease, I have four words for you that I know will relieve you greatly,” Mr. Kerry said at the fund-raiser. “How does this sound — Vice President Hunter Thompson.”
Mr. Kerry canceled an appearance set for today in Albuquerque, N.M., and was flying back to Washington to vote in the Senate for mandatory financing of veterans health care. He had planned to describe his plan for federal investment in science and technology.