Obama, Romney in science showdown!

Candidates 'debate' global warming, science education, energy policy for citizens' group

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The third and final televised U.S. presidential debate is scheduled for Monday night, with the focus being on foreign policy.

But there was a fourth debate held outside the camera's eye, a debate concerning a topic often ignored while the candidates address weightier issues, such as who will kill more terrorists or who will raid more medicinal marijuana facilities.

That topic is science, and the moderator was Science Debate, an "independent citizens' initiative" formed in 2007 and sponsored by Scientific American, the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Council on Competitiveness.

Science Debate submitted 14 questions to the campaigns of President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Below are a handful of those questions, along with excerpted answers from the two presidential candidates.

Question: Science and technology have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since WWII. What policies will best ensure that America remains a world leader in innovation?

Obama: I am committed to doubling funding for key research agencies to support scientists and entrepreneurs ... I have set the goal of preparing 100,000 science and math teachers over the next decade.

Romney: The promotion of innovation will begin on Day One, with efforts to simplify the corporate tax code, reform job retraining programs, reduce regulatory burdens, and protect American intellectual property around the world.

Question: What is your position on cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and other policies proposed to address global climate change—and what steps can we take to improve our ability to tackle challenges like climate change that cross national boundaries?

Obama: Since taking office I have established historic standards limiting greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicles for the first time in history. My administration has made unprecedented investments in clean energy, proposed the first-ever carbon pollution limits for new fossil-fuel-fired power plants and reduced carbon emissions within the Federal Government.

Romney: I oppose steps like a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system that would handicap the American economy and drive manufacturing jobs away, all without actually addressing the underlying problem.

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