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McCain’s Biggest Contributor Also Leading Science Advocate

To say that Republicans are anti-science has always been an extreme over-simplification, the type of characterization that carries weight at liberal blogs but doesn’t really match up well with political reality. The facts are that science has always enjoyed strong bi-partisan support. Only on a few issues such as stem cell research, climate change, and evolution has bi-partisan consensus broken down, and in these cases Republican positions have been far from uniform.

A leading example of the diversity of views about science among leading Republicans is reported on today in the New York Times. As the article details, billionaire Robert Wood Johnson IV raised more than $200,000 for Bush in the last two elections, has been John McCain’s leading fund raiser, and solicited friends in a personal effort to bankroll this year’s GOP convention to the tune of $10 million dollars.

Yet Johnson is also a major fundraiser and advocate for biomedical research. He used his personal connections with former House Speaker Dennis Hastert to help pass $750 million in diabetes research funding and met personally with President Bush to advocate for the funding of embryonic stem cell research, a meeting that helped prevent Bush from completely banning funding in 2001.

The point is that to dismiss Republicans and the GOP as anti-science is not only inaccurate it also risks a strategic mistake. For every flat earth Sarah Palin or James Inhofe, there are also prominent Republicans who believe strongly in scientific research, its promise to grow the economy, and its ability to improve Americans’ quality of life.


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