Left: Win McNamee/Getty. Right: Win McNamee/Getty
Science is slowly coming into focus in the US presidential campaign. Although neither Republican Donald Trump nor Democrat Hillary Clinton has emphasized core research issues, the candidates — and their parties — are beginning to flesh out their positions on climate change, education, biomedical research and other topics that involve the scientific community.
Trump’s pick of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate on 15 July signalled a sharp turn towards the Republican party’s conservative base. Pence, a self-described Christian conservative, has questioned the existence of climate change, waffled on evolution and criticized President Barack Obama for supporting embryonic-stem-cell research. His new role aligns with the hard-line policy platform adopted at the Republican convention, where Trump officially became the party’s nominee on 19 July.
If Trump wins, Pence’s rise could embolden conservative Republicans to seek new limits on federal funding for embryonic-stem-cell research. But predicting how Trump would govern is a dangerous parlour game, says Michael Werner, executive director of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, an advocacy group in Washington DC: “We really don’t know what a Trump–Pence administration would do.”
It’s a common refrain. Deciphering Trump’s views on core science issues has been difficult given the free-wheeling style of his populist campaign. He has often seemed to focus more on taunting the political establishment than on staking out policy positions. By contrast, the Clinton campaign has consulted dozens of scientists on topics that include health, education and the environment.
“Trump doesn’t have a prominent policy shop and a prominent set of policy advisers,” says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who counselled Republican senator John …