Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden did not have much of a reputation as a space advocate during his long tenure in the Senate. However, he’s learning the language of space policy on the campaign trail, particularly in places like Florida and even Colorado that are both key to the general election and also have concentrations of voters with strong interest in the subject. Last night Biden was speaking in Melbourne, Florida, and the campaign supplied this excerpt from his speech:
When John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to go to the moon, he noted that the space industry not only demanded the best minds, it also created the best jobs.
Ladies and gentlemen, the objective was not just to go to the moon. But it was to get another 435,000 engineers and scientists and mathematicians.
When the Shuttle is retired, NASA estimates that 3,500 jobs could be lost – and that doesn’t count the impact on local businesses or the long-term cost of allowing our global leadership to atrophy. The Bush Administration has left our space program in a very difficult position. And John McCain, as Chairman of the Commerce Committee hasn’t helped. He oversaw the plan to retire the Space Shuttle before a replacement was ready.
Barack Obama and I have a different idea. We’re going to work with Bill Nelson; we’re going to invest an additional $2 billion in NASA to reduce the gap between when the Shuttle is retired and the when the next generation of space flight is introduced.
We want to reinvigorate our national space program and that includes creating an environment for a vibrant commercial space program.
What John F. Kennedy said 46 years ago, still resonates with us today: “Now it is time to take longer strides… for this nation to take a… leading role in space achievement.” That’s as true today as it was then. Folks, that’s the goal that Bill Nelson, Barack, and I share.
As it did in the Kennedy Administration — it will help create a new generation of engineers, mathematicians, scientists… and a few more astronauts – like Bill Nelson, as well. It’s a goal that will not only inspire the nation, it will also create jobs.
[emphasis above in original]
A few days earlier, Biden was interviewed on the “Your Show” program on Denver TV station KUSA. The very first question he was asked was from a Lockheed Martin employee who said her colleagues were convinced that an Obama administration would mean “budget cuts for NASA and other science-based research”. Biden’s response:
Absolutely the opposite. I was just down in Florida, and we were talking about what we’re going to do, how we’re going to pump and how we’re going to make jobs available within the space program. We think there should not be this hiatus piece between the present vehicle we have and the new vehicle. We think we should be investing right now. John McCain’s the guy that’s going to interrupt this flow. So the fact of the matter is, the people of Boeing, as it relates to our NASA programs, will do much better under Barack Obama and Joe Biden than they’re going to do under John McCain, and he has so stated.
A similar message, even if the language isn’t terribly precise (and not to mention confusing Lockheed Martin and Boeing).