Round Up: Presidential Candidates Talk Space

Space exploration has become a topic of interest in U.S. presidential debates for the first time in over 40 years. Seventeen individuals are running for president in the two major parties' primaries. Several of them have expressed opinions about space; but most, to our knowledge, have not spoken directly about space, or addressed it at all.  Below are statements from the candidates and/or their campaigns.

Democratic Party

Joe Biden

"The revolution in transportation will also affect foreign policy in the years to come. I don't mean commercial space travel or the supersonic transport. There are limits to how fast or far we need to travel, especially when teleconferencing lets us be 'face to face' without being 'in person.'"

Source: "Non-Proliferation and U.S. Diplomacy in a High-Tech World"

"The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman warned on Sunday against fostering an arms race in space after China was reported to have conducted an anti-satellite weapons test."

-"I don't think we should be overly worried about this at this point," Biden said. "We have ways to deal with that ability."

-"One of the things we have to talk about is whether or not the, sort of, ideological base notion about how we deal with space and weapons in space and the use of weapons from space is something that is a path we should continue to follow," he said.

-"This is not the direction we want to go, in escalating competition in space. And we should be talking about it," Biden said.

Source: Washington Post, "Sen. Biden Warns Against Space Arms Race"

Campaign contact information: Biden for President, Inc. P.O. Box 438 Wilmington, DE 19899 (302) 574-2008

Hillary Clinton

Hillary will enhance American leadership in space, including:

  • Pursuing an ambitious 21st century Space Exploration Program, by implementing a balanced strategy of robust human spaceflight, expanded robotic spaceflight, and enhanced space science activities.
  • Developing a comprehensive space-based Earth Sciences agenda, including full funding for NASA's Earth Sciences program and a space-based Climate Change Initiative that will help us secure the scientific knowledge we need to combat global warming.
  • Promoting American leadership in aeronautics by reversing funding cuts to NASA's and FAA's aeronautics R&D budget.


-As a Chinese spacecraft is ready to head to the moon, the leading U.S. democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), is calling for an increase in overall U.S. robotic exploration, but not necessarily manned exploration of the moon.

-If elected, Sen. Clinton also promises:

  • Development of increased robotic exploration missions.
  • Development of "a comprehensive space-based Earth sciences agenda, including full funding for NASA's Earth sciences program and a space-based Climate Change Initiative that will help us secure the scientific knowledge we need to combat global warming."
  • Reversal of Bush administration "funding cuts to NASA's and FAA's aeronautics R&D budget."

Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, October 29, 2007

Campaign contact information:

Chris Dodd

Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman announced today that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will provide funds to Connecticut small businesses for research and development purposes. The technology projects were chosen based on innovation and scientific merit.

-"From biotechnology to space exploration to energy innovation, Connecticut businesses continue to develop breakthroughs in science and technology," said Dodd. "Our small businesses are an important driving force of these industries, and the partnership between NASA and these companies will secure Connecticut's reputation as a renowned leader in these fields."

Source: Dodd, Lieberman Announce Grants to Help Small Business Research and Tech Projects

Campaign contact information:

PO Box 51882 Washington, DC 20091 Phone (DC): (202) 737-DODD (3633) Phone (CT): (860) 244-2008

John Edwards

Former senator John Edwards (N.C.), who is vying with Clinton and Obama for the Democratic nomination, said in a statement: "We need a balanced space and aeronautics program. We need to support solar system exploration as an important goal for our human and robotic programs, but only as one goal among several."

Source: Washington Post, "Clinton Favors Future Human Spaceflight"

If elected President, how would you balance the scientific research at NASA with the manned spaceflight program which, arguably, has dubious scientific value.

"I am a strong supporter of our space program. It reflects the best of the American spirit of optimism, discovery and progress. We need a balanced space and aeronautics program. We need to support solar system exploration as an important goal for our human and robotic programs, but only as one goal among several. And we need to invite other countries to share in a meaningful way in both the adventure and the cost of space exploration."

Source: "Exclusive: Interview with Senator John Edwards on Science-Related Topics"

Campaign contact information:

410 Market Street Suite 400 Chapel Hill, NC 27516 Phone: (919) 636-3131 Fax: (919) 967-3644

Mike Gravel

[No statements about space by Mr. Gravel could be found].

Campaign contact information:

P.O. Box 948 Arlington, VA 22216-0948 703-652-4698

Dennis Kucinich

-When I was growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, John F. Kennedy was sworn in as president of the United States. And he excited America with a vision of an America that could be. He urged every American to get an education in the sciences in particular so that we could participate in this collaborate effort of reaching for the stars.

-We recognize that our journey is more homebound today, more Earthbound. And so, as president of the United States, I would use the intellectual and scientific abilities that exist in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to move America towards a green economy.

-There's tremendous amounts of research being done at NASA right now, particularly in the area of carbonless burns, carbonless combustion. And it's amazing what is possible today in America. When you think about NASA being dedicated to creating green technologies, where we can call forth a world that we barely understand exists, but knowing the inventive genius that characterizes America throughout our history, we can move towards sustainability using the inventive genius of NASA, where they can create these products in the alpha stage and even license them in the beta stage to help prime the pump of our economy and move quickly, create millions of new jobs.

Source: Newsmaker Transcripts

-Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) called the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 a huge success for NASA Glenn and a big victory for the Ohio delegation.

-"This is a huge success for NASA Glenn and the Cleveland-area, and a big victory for the Ohio Congressional delegation," stated Kucinich. "NASA Glenn is a premier research facility. Thanks to our efforts, this bill helps ensure that Glenn will remain an important part of NASA's long-term plans. This is great news for NASA Glenn and our whole community."

Source: "Kucinich Hails NASA Authorization Bill as 'Huge Success' for NASA-Glenn and Cleveland Area"

Campaign contact information:

11808 Lorain Ave Cleveland, OH 44111

Barack Obama

"Barack Obama's early education and K-12 plan package costs about $18 billion per year. He will maintain fiscal responsibility and prevent any increase in the deficit by offsetting cuts and revenue sources in other parts of the government. The early education plan will be paid for by delaying the NASA Constellation Program for five years."


Campaign contact information:

Obama for America P.O. Box 8102 Chicago, IL 60680

Bill Richardson

Richardson has compiled a list of more than a dozen specific programs that can be cut, reduced, or delayed.

  • $8 billion from scaling back the failing National Missile Defense program.
  • $3 billion from eliminating the Pentagon's secret 'Space-Based Offensive Weapons' that both are redundant in terms of military capacity and will serve to cause a new arms race in space.

Source: Richardson for President, "Richardson Outlines Plan to Modernize Military"

Campaign contact information:

Republican Party

Rudy Giuliani

Giuliani said the United States should prioritize energy independence much like it did the space race, when Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson fired up the gears of industry and imagination after the Soviet Union beat the U.S. into space.

The result was a bipartisan thrust to the moon that transcended several presidencies and spawned a generation of national pride and scientific spin-offs.

"Politics aside and national interests first. Not only did it help us ultimately win the Cold War, it helped us in countless other ways, in scientific development and products," Giuliani said.

"We can do the same thing with energy independence. But we've got to have a president who knows how to get things done."

Source: Tallahassee Democrat (via Space, "Giuliani Wants to 'Aggressively Pursue Space Exploration'"

Campaign contact information:

Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee, Inc. 295 Greenwich St, #371 New York, NY 10007 212-835-9449

Mike Huckabee

In response to the following question: "Is there a candidate amongst you willing to take a pledge on behalf of the Mars Society of sending an American to the surface of Mars by 2020" If not, what is your vision for human space exploration?"

-Whether we ought to go to Mars is not a decision that I would want to make, but I would certainly want to make sure that we expand the space program, because every one of us who are sitting here tonight have our lives dramatically improved because there was a space program — whether it's these screens that we see or the incredible electronics that we use, including the GPS systems that got many of you to this arena tonight.

-Some of you were late because you didn't have one, by the way. Or whether it's the medical technologies that saved many of our lives or the lives or our families, it's the direct result of the space program, and we need to put more money into science and technology and exploration.

-Now, whether we need to send somebody to Mars, I don't know. But I'll tell you what: If we do, I've got a few suggestions, and maybe Hillary could be on the first rocket to Mars.

Source: Republican Presidential Debate, November 28, 2007

Campaign contact information:

Huckabee for President, Inc. P.O. Box 2008 Little Rock, Arkansas 72203501-324-2008

Duncan Hunter

-"China's successful engagement of a satellite orbiting in space marks the commencement of a new era of military competition," said Congressman Hunter. American military forces are dependent on information gathered from U.S. space assets and the capability to engage these resources represents a significant threat to our nation's military power."

-"China's actions and continued efforts to advance its technological capabilities require that all Department of Defense programs intended to preserve America's space assets be reviewed for adequacy. Further, new programs to strengthen the protection, redundancy and reconstitution of U.S. space assets must be made essential. It is critical that we take these steps now to ensure our forces cannot be targeted through an adversarial space strike."

-Congressmen Hunter and Everett sent a letter to President Bush advising that a review of space programs within the Defense Department be initiated.  Text of the letter follows:

"Dear President Bush,

"China's recent test of an anti-satellite missile, destroying a satellite in low earth orbit, marks the commencement of a new era of military competition in space. The dependency of American warfighting capability, and the economy, on space assets compels our nation to take the necessary steps to ensure our forces cannot be targeted through an adversarial space strike.

"Space capabilities are integral to the daily execution of virtually every military campaign, operation, and exercise involving U.S. forces today. Therefore, a review of Department of Defense programs intended to preserve American space assets is warranted. Further, new programs which provide protection, redundancy, and reconstitution of space assets should be essential.

"Mr. President, it is important that substantial efforts are made now to avoid technological surprise. I look forward to working with you to strengthen our capabilities to protect America's space assets."

Source: House.Gov "Hunter: New Era of Military Competition Commences"

Campaign contact information:

Hunter For President, Inc. 9340 Fuerte Drive Suite 302 La Mesa, CA 91941 (619)463-3896

Alan Keyes

"Q: Should taxpayers continue to fund NASA, or should it move to the private sector?" "A: They should continue to fund these programs. When we opened up our frontiers, the Lewis & Clark Expedition and so forth, those were not privately funded matters. Our Founders considered exploring this great continent to be one of the important functions of government. And we should as a community sustain our commitment to develop the great frontier [of space] for the sake of humanity, not just for our own sake."

"Space exploration has a spiritual component which we may be losing sight of. As a people we need continually to have before us the truth that our potential is best realized when we are challenging ourselves to reach for those things that transcend our everyday needs and desires and passions and commit us to the kind of endeavors that have importance not only for us, but for future generations. I think space exploration is one of those and I would support it strongly."

Source: Republican Debate at Dartmouth College Oct 29, 1999

Keyes supports the following spending levels:

  • Slightly Increase Funding
  • NASA
  • Scientific research

Source: OntheIssues.Org

Campaign contact information:

Alan Keyes for President P.O. Box 50597 Provo, UT 84605-0597 Phone: 800-727-6142 Fax: 801-691-0536

John McCain

When asked about their candidates' positions on the moon-Mars project, a spokeswoman for Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) did not respond.

Source: Washington Post, "Clinton Favors Future Human Spaceflight"

Campaign contact information:

John McCain 2008 P.O. Box 16118 Arlington, VA 22215 703) 418-2008

"Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate and commend the designers, builders, sponsors, and pilot of SpaceShipOne on the occasion of its successful flight out of earth's atmosphere on June 21, 2004. What is most remarkable about SpaceShipOne, of course, is that it is the first privately-financed and privately built vehicle to leave the Earth's atmosphere"

"Their success should also be read as a cautionary tale for all of us in government. If only the United States had a taxation policy that limited government and thereby freed up more private capital, there is no telling how many more like Burt Rutan, Paul Allen, and Michael Melvill would be able to do great things to the benefit all of mankind. This not just in space exploration, but in medical research, alternative energy research, and any number of the problems that continue to perplex mankind. Private enterprise depends on results and success and therefore private capital is always targeted much more wisely than is monies confiscated by governments."

Source: Ron Paul Before the House of Representatives, June 25, 2004, "Praising Space Exploration"

Ron Paul consistently opposes taxpayer funding for NASA

Source: The Hill, "Ron Paul: Trouble Back Home"

Campaign contact information:

3461 Washington Blvd., Suite 200 Arlington, VA 22201 703-248-9115

Mitt Romney

"Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's campaign responded by providing an article from the Florida Today newspaper that said: During the first campaign visit to the Space Coast by a 2008 presidential candidate, Republican Mitt Romney said he supports Bush's vision for space exploration and has no reason yet to propose a new direction."

Source: Washington Post, "Clinton Favors Future Human Spaceflight"

Campaign contact information:

Romney for President, Inc. P.O. Box 55239 Boston, MA 02205 (857) 288-6400

Tom Tancredo

"The question is a serious one and it deserves a serious answer, and that is this: Look, we've been -- how many times up here, how many questions have dealt with the issue of deficit spending, the debt out of control? And yet, we have somebody saying, 'But would you spend more money on going to Mars'"

"And the suggestion that we need to spend more money on space exploration. This is it, folks. That's why we have such incredible problems with our debt, because everybody's trying to be everything to all people.

"We can't afford some things, and by the way, going to Mars is one of them."

Campaign contact information:

501 Church Street Suite 212 Vienna, VA 22180 (703) 255-9898

Fred Thompson

  • Complete the modernization of the U.S. Air Force to ensure continued tactical air dominance over all potential adversaries and the ability to project power globally.
  • Ensure tactical and strategic air/space superiority over every battlefield and the U.S.
  • Develop robust Missile Defenses to protect the homeland, deployed forces, and allies against ballistic missiles of all ranges in all phases of flight.
  • Field a layered, multi-tiered missile defense architecture that includes land-, sea-, and space-based components.
  • Support the development and testing of advanced missile defense technologies to address the complexity of foreign ballistic missile inventories.
  • Promote international collaboration in all missile defense efforts, to include cooperation in joint development and production with friends and allies.

Source: Fred08 "Revitalizing America's Armed Forces"

"We were able to get those things done. I also took a leadership role in the passage of the homeland security bill, and blocked export control legislation that would have allowed the sale of our sensitive technology to unreliable countries."

Source: Candidacy announcement speech Sep 6, 2007

Campaign contact information:

Friends of Fred Thompson, Inc. P.O. Box 128349 Nashville, TN 37212-8349

Bart Leahy is a technical writer living in Alabama.