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Group to Presidential Candidates: Say Yes to Science Debate
Science Debate 2020 organizers are urging supporters to contact the U.S. presidential candidates' campaigns and urge them to take part in a debate on science policy.
Science Debate 2020 organizers invited Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Republicans John McCain and Mike Huckabee earlier this month, but have yet to receive a response from any of the contenders. So the group is now urging supporters to contact the presidential campaigns directly and urge the candidates to accept the debate invitation.
In an email sent out over the weekend, Science Debate 2020 said, "This is a unique moment in American history when you can truly influence the future direction of the nation and the world by helping us elevate science and technology in our national political dialogue."
In addition to asking supporters to contact each of the presidential candidates, Science Debate 2020 organizers are also encouraging people to write letters to the editor "urging the candidates to attend for the good of America."
The debate has been scheduled for Friday, April 18, at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The event would take place four days before the Pennsylvania primary election.
A grassroots initiative, Science Debate 2020 has garnered support from more than 100 U.S. universities and science organizations, as well as thousands of individuals, including Nobel Prize-winning scientists, corporate leaders and political figures. The group is co-sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Council on Competitiveness, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering. and the Institute of Medicine.
Among the many who have joined the call for a science debate is John Podesta, formerly chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and now CEO of the Center for American Progress.
"The biggest challenges, I think, facing this country require a debate on the role of science in charting a path forward on national security, on energy and climate change policy, really on core fundamentals of our economic policy, which means changing our economy from one that's built around a high carbon base to a low carbon base," Podesta told debate supporters last week. "Scientists have a tremendous amount to inform the American public on and we need a president who's going to listen to scientists, which would be a change from the current situation, ... in trying to chart a course that's going to be sustainable into the future."
Science Debate 2020 organizers stress the event is not intended to be a "science quiz," but rather a discussion on how science affects many issues of vital importance to the U.S. Those issues include national security, climate change, the health of our air and oceans, science education and competitiveness in a global economy, healthcare and energy security.
"Health and scientific research saves lives, finds ways to control health care costs, fuels our economic growth and ensures that the U.S. will continue to lead in scientific breakthroughs," said John Edward Porter, chair of the health research advocacy organization Research!America and a former Congressman from Illinois. "Yet, federal research spending has seen real decreases five years in a row-and the president's latest budget proposal would make it six.
"As much as medical research has accomplished, we don't want to provide the same health care next year that we have today," Porter added. "The only way it will get better is to make it smarter. The only way to make it smarter is by putting research to work at the full level of scientific opportunity. The American public deserves no less."