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Edwards Promotes Technology Plan In RTP

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Before heading to Boston for the biggest political week of his life, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was back in the Triangle Monday on his final campaign stop before heading to the Democratic National Convention.

Edwards attended a round table discussion with students at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in Research Triangle Park, focusing on his and John Kerry's plan to build a stronger America through science, technology and innovation.

In his 22-minute speech, Edwards outlined three major points: increasing the use of broadband Internet access, making the health-care system work better and increasing the use of alternative fuels.

"It's so important for us to continue to invest in research and development," Edwards said.

The crowd connected to the biotech industry listened as the vice presidential candidate told them how the Kerry administration would connect them to the future.

Edwards gave examples of what he would invest in -- like Alan Ying's small Durham company that streamlines patient information for hospitals.

"What are we going to do to create a paperless health-care system?" Edwards asked.

The senator responded to ethical questions about stem cell research.

"There clearly needs to be serious restrictions on this research, but I believe it can be done in a way that is much more effective than is being done right now," he said.

Edwards also said America would gain its independence from oil dependence.

"We also want to make sure that out car companies and our American workers are able to build the fuel-efficient vehicles of the future," Edwards said.

North Carolina ranks third in the nation in the biotechnology field. It is vital in areas where textiles and tobacco have disappeared.

Those in attendance say biotechnology is an issue neither party can afford to ignore.

"It's a Republican and a Democratic issue. If they don't make it a top priority, then it becomes a problem because they are not paying attention to it, " said Ying, MercuryMD CEO.

President George W. Bush has talked a lot about retraining the work force for a changing economy. Bush has visited several North Carolina community colleges on that initiative.

Edwards had planned to do some last minute campaigning, but concerns about his voice prompted campaign officials to postpone an afternoon speech that had been scheduled for the North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro.

After campaigning in Texas, John and Elizabeth Edwards arrived at Raleigh-Durham International Airport just before 7 p.m. Sunday. The couple is scheduled to fly to Boston on Tuesday. Edwards will address the convention Wednesday.

Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled to appear at campaign events in Washington state and Oregon Monday.

President Bush is avoid the campaign trail during the convention, spending the week at his ranch in Texas.

Republicans are monitoring coverage of the Democratic National Convention from a war room near the site of the gathering. The GOP will hold daily news conferences, field media calls and generally keep tabs on the Democrats.

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