Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

Town Hall: Obama and Romney Talked about Science (a Little)


Source: League of Women Voters

If you blinked you missed the fact that President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney dealt with a few science issues in the Town Hall debate this week at Hofstra University. So, for a change of pace from our ongoing weekly look at one of's 14 questions about the "Top American Science Questions," I've pulled together some quick summaries by our staff to highlight specific differences in science-grounded policies between the candidates.


Of course, an entire live debate devoted to the scientific foundations of proposed presidential policies would have been ideal – particularly since it would have allowed for follow-up questions. And that was's original goal. But at least some science is peeking through all the rehearsed replies and talking points.



The second presidential debate started with a question about education and jobs for the future. Read what the candidates said about investing in science and math education and how Scientific American graded their responses (scroll down):


On Tuesday evening Governor Romney said, “I'll get America and North America energy independent. I'll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses.”


Here's the follow-up question that should have been asked: Is energy independence feasible?


Judge the differences in the candidates' responses on energy policy and how Scientific American graded their answers--including the feasibility of energy independence.



When asked about immigration issues at the town hall debate, Governor Romney said, “I also think that we should give visas to people — green cards, rather, to people who graduate with skills that we need. People around the world with accredited degrees in science and math get a green card stapled to their diploma, come to the U.S. of A.”


Read more about how Governor Romney would change immigration policies to ensure the U.S. remains a leader in innovation and how Scientific American graded Romney's and President Obama's responses to the innovation issue.


Fielding a question at the second presidential debate about generating new jobs for the next generation, President Obama said, “I want high wage, high skill jobs. That's why we have to emphasize manufacturing. That's why we have to invest in advanced manufacturing. That's why we've got to make sure that we've got the best science and research in the world.”


Both Obama and Romney provided written answers on 14 science questions – read their responses on innovation and science research and the future and how Scientific American graded there responses here and here (scroll down).

Read the candidates’ answers to all 14 questions in full at either or Election 2012 button used under Creative Commons license BY 2.0.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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