Ron Reagan, Breaking With Convention
By Brian Faler
Tuesday, July 13, 2004; Page A09
Ron Reagan, son of former president Ronald Reagan, will be addressing a national political convention this summer, but it won't be before a Republican audience.
Reagan, an outspoken liberal who has frequently criticized the Bush administration, will address the Democratic National Convention later this month in support of stem cell research. He said yesterday during the taping of the MSNBC television show "Hardball" that he has been given a prime-time speaking slot and will address the party's delegates for five to eight minutes. Democrats said they have not determined when he will take the podium.
The planned appearance of the youngest child of Ronald and Nancy Reagan will be a public relations coup for the Democrats and a mild embarrassment for the Republicans, who revere the late president, a conservative icon. Republicans are attempting a similar gambit for their convention later this summer, giving Democratic Sen. Zell Miller (Ga.) -- a frequent critic of his own party -- a chance to speak to their delegates.
But Reagan, 46, who has been particularly critical of the Bush administration's restrictions on the controversial stem cell research, said he was less interested in electoral politics than in reversing those rules.
"I'm not going to the convention to make a political speech," Reagan said during the "Hardball" taping. "I'm going there to talk about embryonic stem cell research, which is of critical importance to this country and the world -- and Democrats support it and the Bush administration doesn't."
Former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are scheduled to speak on July 26, the first night of the convention. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.) is expected to speak the following night. Vice presidential candidate John Edwards (N.C.) will address the audience on July 28 and Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) will accept the presidential nomination on July 29, the final night of the convention.
For a senator who owes so much to her family name, Lisa Murkowski suddenly seems to be de-emphasizing it. The freshman Republican from Alaska is distributing campaign yard signs with "Lisa" written in large type, and "Murkowski" in much smaller letters, Reuters reports.
Writ large or small, Murkowski is a big name in Alaska. Her father, Frank, was a U.S. senator for 22 years before leaving the post to become governor. In December 2002, he appointed his daughter to fill his vacancy.
That rankled some Alaskans, and the governor has run into other problems that have damaged his popularity. Meanwhile, former governor Tony Knowles, a Democrat, is trying to deny Lisa Murkowski the Senate seat she hopes to win in her own right in November.
The senator told Reuters, "There are those who will just kind of visit the sins of the father on the daughter if they're mad enough at my father." She routinely tells voters: "Don't judge me based on my name. Judge me based on my performance."
Staff writer Charles Babington contributed to this report.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company