John McCain Answers Science Debate 2008


On August 30, Chris Mooney and I reported that Senator Barack Obama responded to ScienceDebate2008 and this morning we can announce Senator John McCain has as well.

mccainsd08.pngThe Senator from Arizona provided a glimpse into what the McCain-Palin administration would look like. Read his first answer below and all fourteen on our website. A side-by-side comparison of Obama and McCain is available here.

1. Innovation. Science and technology have been responsible for half of the growth of the American economy since WWII. But several recent reports question America's continued leadership in these vital areas. What policies will you support to ensure that America remains the world leader in innovation?

I have a broad and cohesive vision for the future of American innovation. My policies will provide broad pools of capital, low taxes and incentives for research in America, a commitment to a skilled and educated workforce, and a dedication to opening markets around the globe. I am committed to streamlining burdensome regulations and effectively protecting American intellectual property in the United States and around the globe.

Transformative information and communications technologies permeate every aspect of our daily lives. In the last decade, there has been an explosion in the ways Americans communicate with family, friends, and business partners; shop and connect with global markets; educate themselves; become more engaged politically; and consume and even create entertainment. America has led the world into this technology revolution because we have enabled innovation to take root, grow, and prosper. Nurturing technology and innovation is essential for solving the critical problems facing our country: developing alternative fuels, addressing climate change, encouraging commercialization of new technologies, deploying technology to manage cost and enable new jobs, stopping the spiraling expense of health care, and better educating our children and our workforce.

I am uniquely qualified to lead our nation during this technological revolution. While in the Navy, I depended upon the technologies and information provided by our nation's scientists and engineers with during each mission. I am the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The Committee plays a major role in the development of technology policy, specifically any legislation affecting communications services, the Internet, cable television and other technologies. Under my guiding hand, Congress developed a wireless spectrum policy that spurred the rapid rise of mobile phones and Wi-Fi technology that enables Americans to surf the web while sitting at a coffee shop, airport lounge, or public park.

Above all, my commitment to innovation is a commitment to the well-established entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of America's thinkers and tinkerers whose inventions have improved our lives and promoted prosperity. To maintain American leadership, I believe we must nurture the conditions under which entrepreneurs can continue to prosper by bringing new innovators to market and the American people can reap the rewards.

As President, I will ---

- Focus on addressing national needs to make the United States a leader in developing, deploying, and exporting new technologies;

- Utilize the nation's science and technology infrastructure to develop a framework for economic growth both domestically and globally;

- Appoint a Science and Technology Advisor within the White House to ensure that the role of science and technology in policies is fully recognized and leveraged, that policies will be based upon sound science, and that the scientific integrity of federal research is restored;

- Eliminate wasteful earmarks in order to allocate funds for science and technology investments;

- Fund basic and applied research in new and emerging fields such as nanotechnology and biotechnology, and in greater breakthroughs in information technology;

- Promote greater fiscal responsibility by improving the scientific and engineering management within the federal government;

- Encourage and facilitate commercialization of new innovations, especially those created from federally funded research;

- Ensure U.S. leadership in space by promoting an exploration agenda that will combine the discoveries of our unmanned probes with new technologies to take Americans to the Moon, Mars, and beyond;

- Grow public understanding and popularity of mathematics and science by reforming mathematics and science education in schools;

- Leverage technologies to create employment in rural areas and deploy the displaced workforce;

- Create greater transparency in government and encourage more citizens-government dialogs using current technology; and

- Develop and implement a global competitive agenda through a series of business roundtables with industry and academia leaders.

Read more.

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I recently watched this video of Obama talking at Google on science and innovation (, and his points reflect his responses to ScienceDebate. It's seems to me that he understands his proposed policies. He speaks clearly and with obvious understanding of the subjects.

I was pleasantly surprised my McCain's responses to ScienceDebate, in that they weren't completely incoherent nonsense. Obviously both candidates probably had quite a bit of assistance in constructing their answers from their campaigns, but it also seems apparent to me that Obama does have a good understanding of these issues. I would really like to see McCain answering these kinds of questions, relatively unprepared, in an open forum.

Thank you for instigating this, and pushing the candidates to respond.

I've posted my own thoughts on their responses on my blog, if you are interested. On both Obama and on McCain.

I think it speaks for itself when McCain claims to be "uniquely qualified to lead our nation during this technological revolution" while being a "technological troglodyte" who relies on his wife to use computers.

Still, it's interesting to see their formal responses. Like Luke, I'd love to see McCain answering similar questions on his own without his press staff spinning things.

McCain also recently responded to a series of questions about the future of health research. Obama's answers are posted as well.

Your Candidates-Your Health

@Brian D- McCain is convinced McCain is uniquely qualified to do everything.
That's part of the problem with McCain.
As courageous as McCain as a person might have been, "I was a POW" is about as good an argument for "I understand diplomacy" as "I can see Russia from my house" is for "I understand foreign policy".

Can't you see, he's running soley on "character" (no, not Mickey Mouse, the other kind of character!). You can trust him to make good scientific decisions because you can trust him with everything! Duh!

He says he wants to reformulate science and math education, but what are the specifics on this? It seems like a lot of sound and fury indicating nothing, and with a creationist as the VP pick, it seems a little dangerous actually.

I had the same question, Reginald, and I get a little nervous when a conservative with ties to the Religious Right talks about reforming the way that science and mathematics are taught.

Is he advocating turning away from "new math?" Is he saying that we should let local school boards "teach the controversy?" Is he planning to make schools more competitive by introducing school vouchers on a Federal level?

What does this mean, Senator McCain?

McCain's answer on stem cells:

While I support federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, I believe clear lines should be drawn that reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress. Moreover, I believe that recent scientific breakthroughs raise the hope that one day this debate will be rendered academic. I also support funding for other research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem cell research which hold much scientific promise and do not involve the use of embryos. I oppose the intentional creation of human embryos for research purposes and I voted to ban the practice of "fetal farming," making it a federal crime for researchers to use cells or fetal tissue from an embryo created for research purposes.

But wait, see this:
McCain Makes Sharp Right Turn on Stem Cells

By Mustafa Mond, FCD (not verified) on 17 Sep 2008 #permalink