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Policy

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

Politics: Candidates state their positions on green cards for foreign scientists, R&D funding levels, and energy

by Susan R. Morrissey
October 18, 2012

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Credit: UPI/John Angelillo/Newscom
The second debate between Romney (left) and Obama was more heated than their first meeting.
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Credit: UPI/John Angelillo/Newscom
The second debate between Romney (left) and Obama was more heated than their first meeting.

During the 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 science and technology. The two also revisited their positions on energy during this second debate, which was a town hall debate where audience members posed questions to the candidates.

The debate, for example, was sprinkled with mentions of issues such as increasing the number of green cards issued to foreign math and science graduates in the U.S. and continued support for federal R&D spending.

When asked how he would deal with undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. and productively contributing to society, former Massachusetts Gov. 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. But government must also invest money 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 (C&EN, Oct. 8, page 10).

President 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.

The candidates will square off one last time before the Nov. 6 election with an Oct. 22 debate that focuses on foreign policy.

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