updated 10/5/2006 8:07:47 AM ET 2006-10-05T12:07:47

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali endorsed Michigan's Democratic governor for re-election on Wednesday, saying he backed Jennifer Granholm's efforts to overturn the state's ban on embryonic stem cell research.

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Ali has Parkinson's disease, a condition that stem cell research advocates say might be treated or cured through such research.

"She wants talented researchers and businesses around the world — who are working on cures for devastating and gut-wrenching diseases right now — to relocate here ... but she's been hindered in her efforts to attract them because our laws are too restrictive," Ali and his wife, Lonnie, said in a statement released by the Granholm campaign.

State law does not permit Michigan researchers to get embryos left over from fertility treatments in the state. State scientists can use embryonic stem cell lines from California, Illinois or other states with less restrictive laws, but those lines sometimes are patented by other researchers.

Opponents say embryonic stem cell research destroys human life, one reason President Bush earlier this year vetoed federal legislation expanding federal funding of such research.

Granholm supports state legislation that would allow more embryonic stem cell research in Michigan. Her Republican challenger, Dick DeVos, said he opposed embryonic stem cell research but supported research using adult stem cells.

2006 key racesAli and Granholm were to have appeared together at a morning rally at a Detroit union hall, but his plane was grounded by stormy weather near his southwestern Michigan home.

DeVos spokesman John Truscott said Granholm has been "basically silent" when it comes to promoting the permitted forms of stem cell research.

"She hasn't taken a leadership role in moving forward research that's allowed by our laws ... whether it be policies or programs that move forward adult stem cell research," he said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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