Many said it would never happen so call February 16, 2008 ‘historic’ because there’s been a science debate here in Boston at AAAS (the largest science conference on the planet) between the presidential campaigns!
With a day’s notice, conference organizers invited representatives from all the candidates in both parties to come to a session moderated by Claudia Dreifus of the NYTimes. The Clinton and Obama camps took the invitation very seriously demonstrating they not only care, but indeed, they want to be engaged in discussing the significance of science and technology on the campaign trail. By yesterday afternoon, AAAS put out an announcement that the event would happen at 3:30 Saturday–and today’s venue was PACKED! (Whoever said scientists aren’t interested in politics?)
The debate was a 90-minute format and I sat alongside friends and fellow SD’08 steering committee members Lawrence Krauss, Matthew Chapman, and Austin Dacey. Each campaign representative was first given eight minutes to introduce their candidate’s platform on science and technology followed by a question and answer period. Claudia did an extraordinary job of introducing why this is so necessary and choosing the questions we all want to ask…
What are the candidates plans if elected regarding science and technology? Both promised enormous increased funding for research and education, and Claudia followed by asking about the details on how they plan to do it. How do they feel about investing on projects like exploring Mars and what sets them apart from the other candidates and the current administration? The audience had the opportunity to submit questions as well which included inquiring what their administration’s priorities would be, how science will be utilized to better inform policy decisions, who the candidates will look to for honest information, and much, much more. The list goes on and on and will shortly be available on the AAAS website. [Check back here soon for details on what was said and how each side performed–including photos and possibly video.]
And the best part? The climax that launched a round of tremendous applause from the audience: Claudia asked both representatives: Will your candidate be at ScienceDebate2008 on April 18th in Philidelphia?
‘Time will tell‘ from Clinton’s camp, to which Obama’s rep reported it’s being very seriously considered, followed with an enthusiastic, ‘I endorse it!‘
So… A Presidential Debate on Science and Technology? Well, it sure doesn’t seem all that outlandish anymore! Clinton and Obama have certainly demonstrated in a very public way that they care and are prepared to make a strong case for science in their candidacy.
Just think, in two months nearly the entire scientific community has embraced ScienceDebate2008 along with leaders in business, politics, and beyond. And the campaigns are listening–Boston today serves as evidence! We hope you’ll help make it happen: Contact the campaigns and tell them you want the presidential candidates to attend ScienceDebate2008!
And stay tuned, because this is only the beginning… the prelims for the main event on April 18th!