updated 10/21/2004 2:57:51 PM ET 2004-10-21T18:57:51

Christopher Reeve’s widow, Dana, plans to join Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry for a campaign speech about the importance of science, research and innovation.

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Reeve supports Kerry’s intention to expand federally funded embryonic stem cell research. The campaign said she approached the Massachusetts senator about making what probably will be her only campaign appearance, a speech Thursday in Columbus, Ohio.

Kerry has asked former Vice President Al Gore to campaign for him this weekend in Florida, site of the recount that swung the election to Bush four years ago.

To many Democrats, Gore is the living symbol of an election they believe the GOP stole from them. Kerry’s campaign hopes Gore can convince those Democrats that their votes are urgently needed in an election that could be just as close.

Christopher Reeve became an advocate of spinal cord research, including looser restrictions on stem cell research, after a horse riding accident that left him a quadriplegic for the last nine years of his life.

Kerry knew the “Superman” actor for about 15 years through family and activist connections. Reeve left him a long telephone message the day before he died, thanking him for campaigning on behalf of medical research.

His death has since reverberated on the campaign trail, as Kerry battles President Bush over the ethics of stem cell research using embryos destroyed for research. Bush restricted federally funded research to lines already existing before his 2001 executive order, a decision criticized by some scientists and research advocates.

Kerry’s running mate, John Edwards, caused a stir earlier this month when he invoked the actor at a campaign event.

“If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again,” Edwards said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican and doctor, accused Kerry and Edwards of “shamefully trying to use the death of people like Christopher Reeve to promote falsehoods and dishonesty” about Bush’s position on stem cell research.

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