On Thursday John McCain gave a speech in Ormond Beach, Florida, that included many of the themes the candidate has repeated countless times now on the campaign trail, such as a one-year budget freeze. However, the Barack Obama campaign seized upon one part of that speech, notably what McCain didn’t say:
Days after attempting to clarify his ever-changing position on space funding, John McCain returned to the region this morning and reinstituted his call for a spending freeze – without an exception for NASA. Speaking in Ormond Beach, McCain promised to freeze spending on “all but the most important programs like defense, veterans care, social security and health care,” pledging to “veto every single pork barrel earmark.”
Notably absent was any exception for space funding, muddying a position McCain tried to clear up last week.
“It seems Senator McCain isn’t committed to exempting NASA from his proposed spending freeze. After talking about space for all of 53 seconds in Melbourne last week, now he’s returned to the area and neglected to mention space at all, going so far as to reinstitute his spending freeze pledge without a NASA exception. It’s no wonder Florida Today has called McCain ‘downright schizophrenic’ about space,” said Obama’s Florida Policy Director Ian Bassin. “Barack Obama has pledged an additional $2 billion to reduce the spaceflight gap and save Florida jobs and was recently praised for his ‘leadership’ on space issues by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. That’s the change Florida’s Space Coast needs.”
So did the McCain campaign really go back on its pledge just last week to provide $2 billion more for NASA? One can argue that McCain was not trying to provide a complete list of “important programs” that would be exempt from the freeze, and just listed the highest-profile ones. However, while Ormond Beach is not usually considered part of the “Space Coast” region of Florida, it’s close enough—just north of Daytona Beach—that the McCain campaign could have avoided any controversy and negative publicity by simply adding “and NASA” to that list, if in fact the candidate is still committed to that budget increase.