McCain says he’s the one to keep US in space
On a visit to Florida’s Space Coast, home to the NASA complex at Cape Canaveral, the Arizona Republican said as U.S. president, he would make space exploration a top priority and ensure that the United States retains its leadership role.
He lambasted his Democratic rival for changing his position on space funding.
Earlier in the campaign, Obama proposed delays in NASA’s Constellation program, which will succeed the retiring Space Shuttle, to free money to pay for early education programs. That proposal was later dropped, and aides said he would find other ways to pay for those programs.
This past weekend, Obama’s campaign said the Illinois Democrat supported human missions to the moon by 2020 as part of a longer-term effort to send missions to distant destinations, including Mars.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to know what a politician will actually do once in office because they say different things at different times to different people,” McCain said in a statement he read to reporters at Brevard Community College, where he met with local officials and business executives. “This is a particular problem when a candidate has a short, thin record on the issues as is the case of Sen. Obama.
“Let me just say in case Sen. Obama does decide to return to his original plan of cutting NASA funding, I oppose such cuts,” he said, adding he was committed to funding the Constellation program.
Florida – a major battleground state in the November presidential election — faces the loss of thousands of jobs when the space shuttle program ends in 2010.
Both the Republican and the Democratic candidates say they would like to minimize the projected five-year gap between the shuttle’s retirement and introduction of its successor. Obama also has proposed an additional shuttle flight.
The Florida Democratic Party recently criticized McCain by saying the five-year gap was created under his watch as former Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
“It’s a little late for John McCain to claim he would minimize the gap that he helped create or save the jobs he helped put in danger,” state Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff said in the statement. “If concerned Space Coast workers are looking for someone to blame for this poorly-thought-out plan, they need to look no further than John McCain.”
Photo credit: Reuters/Pierre Ducharme (Space shuttle Discovery and chase plane at Kennedy Space Center)