WASHINGTON — Sen. Hillary Clinton vowed Thursday to end what she called President Bush's "war on science" by lifting federal limits on embryonic stem cell research and investing billions in scientific research and development.
Clinton, the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, also criticized the Bush administration for "ignoring or manipulating science" to serve narrow political interests, with the result that "our economic competitors get an edge in the global economy."
In a speech to the Carnegie Institution for Science, Clinton said she would launch a $50 billion fund to research alternative energy, hopes to double the $28 billion budget of the National Institutes of Health over 10 years, and would order political appointees to ensure the integrity of federal scientific inquiry.
Clinton's speech was tied to the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Union's launch of the Sputnik satellite — an event that galvanized American interest in science as the nation realized it was losing the space race.
"What America achieved after Sputnik is a symbol of what America can do now as we confront a new global economy, new environmental challenges, and the promise of new discoveries in medicine," Clinton said. "America led in the 20th century — and with new policies and a renewed commitment to scientific integrity and innovation, America is ready to lead in the 21st."
By promising to reverse Bush's 2001 order limiting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, Clinton latched onto an issue that has broad bipartisan support outside the Republican Party's base of religious conservatives. She called Bush's position a "ban on hope." Her promise to spend billions on alternative energy research comes as more Americans are expressing concern about climate change — and the price of oil.
Highlighting the Bush administration's stance on science could help Clinton win over disaffected independents and moderate Republicans. At various times, the administration has been accused of whitewashing reports on climate change. It also has suggested on federal Websites links between abortion and breast cancer, an assertion that scientists question.
"For six-and-a-half years, it's been open season on open inquiry," Clinton said.
Republicans mocked Clinton's "fuzzy math" and questioned how she would pay for her proposals.
"Hillary Clinton says she will bring integrity to science, but on the campaign trail she manipulates basic mathematics in her attempts to explain how she will pay for hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending" said Danny Diaz, spokesman for the Republican National Committee. "Senator Clinton's plans to raise taxes on hardworking families and businesses in order to pay for a fraction of her spending proposals amount to the real ban on hope."
Clinton has proposed rolling back President Bush's tax cuts for families with incomes $250,000 and above to pay for her health-care proposals. As for her energy proposals Thursday, she said she'd close tax subsidies and loopholes for oil companies. To pay for doubling NIH funding over 10 years, Clinton would end the deferral of taxation on income earned abroad.
Clinton's speech came the same day that a Gallup Poll indicated that she has convinced most Democratic voters that she is the Democratic presidential candidate best able to deal with most policy issues.
A majority favored Clinton over her Democratic rivals on health care, abortion, the economy, education, relations with other countries, and gay marriage. A plurality said she was best prepared to deal with terrorism, Iraq, taxes, energy and the environment, crime, immigration and being commander-in-chief of the military.
Her chief rival for the nomination, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, led on dealing with race relations, inspiring Americans and healing political divisions in the country.
The third top-tier Democratic candidate, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, led on no issues.
The Gallup survey was a telephone poll of 537 Democrats or Democratic leaners taken Sept.24-27. It had an error margin of plus or minus 5 percentage points.
To read more about the Clinton science plan and the Gallup Poll go to the following: