Democrat delight as Reagan's son signs up

The Democrats have an unexpected addition to the line-up of primetime speakers for their national political convention which begins in Boston in just two weeks. He is not exactly a Democrat, but he surely isn't a Republican either, in spite of his rather famous name.

He is Ron Reagan, the son of the late former president. Organisers of the convention, which opens on 26 July, confirmed that Mr Reagan will be a highlighted speaker on one of the evenings.

A liberal and a harsh critic of President George Bush, he is none the less expected to speak only about his support for a relaxation of federal restrictions on stem-cell research. "Ron Reagan's courageous pleas for stem-cell research add a powerful voice to the millions of Americans hoping for cures for their children, for their parents and for their grandparents," said David Wade, a spokesman for John Kerry, whose nomination to run for president will be confirmed in Boston.

Recruiting Mr Reagan to their convention stage in Boston is a political coup for the Democrats, even if he restricts himself to the subject of medical research.

Organisers clearly see his appearance, just weeks after the country mourned the death of his father, as an opportunity to embarrass the Republicans, who go on to hold their convention in New York City one month later.

"If they had asked me to say a few words about throwing George Bush out of office, I wouldn't do it," Mr Reagan told The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper yesterday.

Mr Reagan, 46, has joined his mother, Nancy, in lobbying Washington for a change in policy on stem-cell research. In 2001, President George Bush cut off federal funding for stem-cell research which could help doctors find new cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's, which assailed the mental faculties of Mr Reagan Snr for 10 years until he died, at the age of 94, last month.

Mr Bush has so far made no response to the appeals of the Reagan family. Conservative Republicans strongly oppose supporting stem-cell research, which involves drawing material from one-day-old fertilised human embryos. Critics of the procedure believe that it represents the moral equivalent of abortion.

"This gives me a platform to educate people about stem-cell research," Mr Reagan said of his invitation to Boston.

"The conservative right has a rather simplistic way of characterising it as baby-killing. We're not talking about fingers and toes and brains. This is a mass of a couple hundred undifferentiated cells."

That Mr Reagan, who describes himself as an independent, and his father hardly saw eye to eye politically has been well known for years. The former president was famously dismayed when his son dropped out of Yale University to join a ballet company. There was some consternation, however, when Mr Reagan Jnr appeared to make use of the address he made at his father's funeral in June to take a stab at President Bush over his tendency to cite God in making and explaining policy.

Mr Reagan, who lives in Seattle with his wife, Doria, told mourners that his father "never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians, wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage". He later said that he had not meant the remark to be taken as a direct criticism of Mr Bush.

He recently turned down a similar invitation to attend the Republican convention in New York, which will stage a special tribute to his father. "I don't think, in good conscience, I could take the chance that somebody could read that as an endorsement of this administration," he explained. "I'll support any viable candidate who can defeat Bush."

Mr Reagan added: "The Republican Party now is not the Republican Party of my father, not that it would be of great concern to me, one way or the other. I'm not a Republican, and I never have been."

In a separate remark recently, he said: "I couldn't join a party that, frankly, tolerates members who are bigots for one thing, homophobes and racists."

Voters in America may be seeing more of Mr Reagan. He recently signed a deal with the cable news network MSNBC to be a commentator for the 2004 presidential campaign.

Life and Style
life
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
Environment
environmentCrop pests are 'grave threat to global food security'
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Secondary English Teacher - requ...

Science Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Calling all science teachers! Ra...

Technology Teacher - Food & Textiles

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Food Tech/Textiles Teacher We ...

Head of Marketing (Online & Offline, Media, Digital, Strategy)

£85000 - £100000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing - Slough, Berkshi...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone