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Obama, Romney Briefly Touch On Science Policy Issues In Second Debate

Politics: Candidates state their positions on several science policy issues

by Susan R. Morrissey
October 18, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 43

Credit: UPI/John Angelillo/Newscom
The second debate between Romney (left) and Obama was more heated than their first meeting.
Photo of President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney speaking at the same time during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on October 16, 2012.
Credit: UPI/John Angelillo/Newscom
The second debate between Romney (left) and Obama was more heated than their first meeting.

During the second 90-minute presidential debate between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, the two men highlighted their campaign positions on policy areas including brief comments on science and technology. The two also revisited their positions on energy policy. The town hall debate allowed audience members to pose questions to the candidates.

In responding to the questions, the candidates touched on topics of interest to the science community. One is increasing the number of green cards issued to foreign math and science graduates in the U.S. Another is continued support for federal R&D spending.

When asked how he would deal with undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. who are productively contributing to society, former Massachusetts governor Romney responded that the nation’s legal system must be clarified and streamlined in this regard. He added, however, that green cards should be “stapled” to the diplomas of foreign students in the U.S. who earn accredited degrees in science and math. Because of the format, Obama didn’t directly address green cards for recent graduates.

When asked how he would bring back and keep jobs in the U.S., Obama noted that government can do more to foster high-paying and skilled jobs. He stressed the need for more federal spending in areas such as advanced manufacturing. Further, the government must also invest money in R&D to ensure that the U.S. remains the world leader in scientific research, he said. Romney didn’t mention scientific research funding.

On energy policy, the two candidates mostly reiterated positions stated during their first debate.

Obama said that although he supports fossil fuels as essential components of energy production today, investments in clean energy are also necessary for the U.S. to secure its future energy needs and to retain control of its economy via energy independence.

Romney restated his support for expanding fossil-fuel development in the U.S. and noted that by taking advantage of current energy resources, the nation would be on a path to North American energy independence within a decade. Romney also indicated support for nuclear and renewable sources of energy.



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