As a nation, we have a big decision to make next year. Who do we want heading up our foreign and domestic policies? Do we want a president who will finally take action against climate change? Or maybe we want the guy still cooling his heels and denying its existence. Will we leap forward in space development, or will we be stuck in the stone age?
Let's face it, that last question might be the real kicker when you're in the voting booth next November. To help you get a sense of where they all stand on NASA funding, we've ranked the 2016 presidential candidates (well, the important ones) by NASA-friendliness, based on statements they've made along the campaign trail and how they've behaved towards space exploration in the past.
Paul definitely comes in last on this list. He's the only candidate who, on record, has declared that he would look to cut NASA's budget under his administration, specifically by up to 25 percent. Like just about everything else, Paul believes space exploration should carry on in the private sector.
While Santorum hasn't weighed in on his current thoughts toward NASA (aside from vehemently disagreeing with all evidence the agency presents regarding climate change), during the 2012 race he admitted that NASA is very important...just not important enough to fund.
Oh, The Donald. You never cease to give us a good chuckle. When asked what he thinks of NASA's goal of a manned mission to Mars, he gave a shrug and said it was "wonderful"—in a sarcastic "never gonna happen" kind of way. Let's be real: unless he's allowed to plaster his name on the side of the International Space Station, he's not really interested.
While he hasn't made any grand statements regarding the space program, Christie recently announced that he believes climate change is real and affected by humans. That at least puts him in line with one of NASA's core initiatives. So at least he's got that going for him, which is nice.
Not much is known about Fiorina's stance on NASA and space exploration, but like Christie, she's one of the rare GOP candidates who acknowledges the existence of climate change. Add that to her experience as CEO of a tech company and there might be a chance that she supports the space program.
In a recent Reddit AMA, Sanders pledged his support to NASA, for both space exploration and for all of the "side benefits" that society gains from the agency's research. That said, his voting record for funding is a bit spotty, and he's more likely to prioritize social issues under his platform.
Cruz already has a big reason to support NASA: he serves as the current chairman of the Senate Space, Science, and Competitiveness subcommittee. He's stated that he hopes to expand NASA's budget and attentions on space exploration, reestablishing the US as the undisputed world leader in space, but only after the agency refocuses on exploration. His critics claim he's really just trying to shift the agency's attentions from climate change research, but hey—support is support.
It may surprise you, but climate change-denying Mike Huckabee is one of the most pro-NASA candidates in the 2016 race. Earlier this year at a precampaign event, before he even declared his candidacy, Huckabee supported the idea of funding the space program because of the countless examples of real world tech that have come from NASA breakthroughs.
Perry doesn't appear to have made any statements regarding his potential NASA policy for the 2016 race, but as the Governor of Texas, home of the Johnson Space center in Houston, he was a supporter of the space program. Unsurprisingly, he once used NASA as a point to criticize President Obama.
Before even declaring his candidacy, Ben Carson declared his support for NASA. When asked about what his first steps as President would be back in 2014, Carson mentioned "getting NASA off the ground" as one of the first things on his to-do list.
Current VP and national creepy uncle Joe Biden may not have announced his candidacy yet, but some people think it's just a matter of time. With a Biden presidency, you could expect to see a continuation of the current administration's good vibes toward NASA, which just bumped up the 2016 budget by half a billion dollars. No promises if President Biden will do fun things like referring to his friends by nicknames like "Barack Ebola" at future NASA functions.
Clinton recently made her position very clear for her 2016 platform, telling a crowd in New Hampshire that she "dreamed of being an astronaut" and even wrote NASA as a young girl, which replied "thank you very much but we're not taking girls." She said she still loves space, and believes that space research should be spearheaded by the government. If she hasn't let the dream die, maybe she can be the first female president AND the first president in space.
The youngest Bush is all about NASA, going so far as calling himself a "space guy" in an interview earlier this year and advocating for an increase in the agency's budget in a possible third Bush presidency. Since he hails from Florida, home of the Kennedy Space Center, he has a vested interest in NASA's success.
Rubio is a staunch supporter of the space program to be sure, but some of the language he's used might be a bit too supportive. He's stated his excitement for the US to be "placing boots on the ground, on Mars." When addressing his foreign policy stance, he also tweeted "I will use American power to oppose any violations of international waters, airspace, cyberspace, or outer space." OUTER SPACE. Marco Rubio sure will support NASA—so long as it's pumping out X-wing fighters to destroy our enemies.