Mixing science and politics, Nobel laureates and former presidential advisers are heading to campaign battleground states with a message that George W. Bush is no friend of scientists and should be replaced by John Kerry (search).
"They feel strongly that President Bush has used ideology to distort scientific integrity in energy policy, the environment, global warming, AIDS politics, bioterrorism preparedness and in a number of other areas," said Joy Howell, spokeswoman for the newly formed Scientists and Engineers for Change (search).
The group, which includes 10 Nobel winners and two former presidential advisers, accuses Bush of spending too little on research and appointing people who aren't qualified for top government science positions.
Bob Hopkins, spokesman for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, dismissed the group's message, which he said "has nothing to with science and everything to do with politics."
"President Bush has been a strong and generous supporter for science," Hopkins said. "He has increased the federal R&D (research and development) spending by 44 percent to a record $132 billion."
Members of the scientists' group were among 48 Nobel laureates to sign a June 21 letter endorsing Sen. Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate.
Lyle H. Schwartz, recently retired director of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, said the nation's investment in science over the past half century had had a great impact on the economy and national security.
"That investment is seriously threatened by policies ... since the Republican takeover of Congress, and in particular over the past 3 1/2 years with the present administration, he said.
Schwartz said Kerry and the Democrats would provide more support.
Other participants include Vint Cerf, one of the Internet's founding fathers; Nobel laureate Harold Varmus, director of the National Institutes of Health under President Clinton, and Maxine Singer, president of the Carnegie Institution.
Scientists are taking their message to colleges and universities in battleground states, including Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia and Wisconsin.