GOP race sees talk of college, science

As the Republican presidential nomination race hurtles towards its ten-state Super Tuesday contest on March 6, the four remaining candidates have each staked out positions regarding higher education, as well as science and technology. Concerns about a growing national debt and suspicion of college-educated elites have colored each candidate’s rhetoric as their public statements have drifted rightward since the beginning of the campaign.

Higher education has come up in the campaign partly as a proxy punching bag for those whom the GOP candidates believe are “elite,” including President Barack Obama, and partly as an example of federal overspending.

Most recently, Rick Santorum raised eyebrows when he called Obama a “snob” for what Santorum said on Meet the Press were Obama’s calls for all Americans to attend college and be remade in Obama’s image. In later statements, Santorum clarified, saying he takes issue with what he believes is the liberal tilt and political correctness of college campuses, not the act of going to college itself.

Ron Paul has called for the complete elimination of the Department of Education and for the government to get out of the student loan business, although he says he would not immediately end student loan programs. He is against any federal assistance for universities, believing that state and local government should handle them.

Each of the GOP candidates have called for lower federal spending, claiming that one of the reasons the country has not fully recovered from the 2008 crash is decreased investor confidence due to unsustainable government spending. Few, however, have addressed funding of science and technology head-on.

Gingrich, known for his self-described “grandiose” ideas, famously claimed he would work to establish a base on the Moon by 2020, funded through private investment. He has also called for more funding for the National Science Foundation.

Romney has called for an increase in the number of H-1B visas, which bring in high-skilled workers from outside the country. Those new immigrants would be able to work in the science and technology fields.