Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday accused President Bush of being at war with science and said that if she is elected, she would sign an executive order rescinding the ban on embryonic stem-cell research.
The New York Democrat accused Mr. Bush of “muzzling” scientists who gave grim climate-change reports.
Recounting her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut, the former first lady also said she would pursue an “ambitious” space program including “robust” human space travel.
“The Bush administration has declared war on science — the record is breathtaking,” Mrs. Clinton told supporters gathered at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “When I am president, I will end this assault on science. America will once again be the innovation nation.”
Mrs. Clinton charged that Mr. Bush allowed “political appointees to censor studies on climate change,” took a “hostile approach” to warnings about global warming and said she would fund a space-based Climate Change Initiative.
Her Democratic rivals said her plan is old news. She did rehash several of her previously announced initiatives, including ending oil subsidies to fund alternative-energy research and pledging to increase the National Institutes of Health budget.
Still, she got sustained applause when promising to lift the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, a bill Congress overwhelmingly passed but Mr. Bush twice vetoed. She said she would restore the position of a science adviser who reports directly to the president.
Mrs. Clinton’s agenda included increasing the NASA aeronautics research budget to its pre-Bush levels and creating new fellowships for math and science teachers.
She also said she would make sure government researchers “no longer place ideology ahead of evidence,” echoing themes of other Democrats on the campaign trail.
Mrs. Clinton said it’s “not a coincidence” she gave the talk on the 50th anniversary of the Sputnik satellite launch, given her fascination with space as a child. “Historic decisions were made” after Sputnik, she said, lauding President Eisenhower for responding with big national goals and creating NASA.
“We didn’t give in to our fears, we confronted them. We didn’t deny tough facts, we responded to them. We didn’t ignore big challenges, we met them,” she said. “We proved … it is always a mistake to bet against America.”
The speech had a few lighter touches, including her citation of a comedian’s joke: “To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, this administration doesn’t make decisions on facts, it makes facts based on decisions.”
Mrs. Clinton also said that as president she hopes to “ignite” interest again in science, research and math careers.
“We really need a television series about scientists. The study of forensic science skyrocketed after all these ‘CSI’ programs,” she said, encouraging scientists in the auditorium to “make up a character that can light the same excitement in young people, because light-bulb moments require electricity.”