With about ten days to go in the 2016 presidential election, the candidates of both major parties suddenly have found the government space program to be a relevant topic.
Florida Today posted this evening a repeat of the October 25 Space News column by Clinton campaign surrogate Jim Kohlenberger. If you read the first one, you'll miss nothing new by skipping today's post.
Space News journalist Jeff Foust reported yesterday that Robert Walker, who co-wrote an October 19 Space News Trump campaign space policy column, told the reporter he'd only joined the campaign in the last two weeks.
Robert Walker, the former Republican congressman who noted he became Trump’s space policy advisor just in the last two weeks, said he was asked by the campaign to develop a space policy “that has real change.” He called the one that resulted “visionary, disruptive, coordinating and resilient.”
That policy framework has several key characteristics, including the restoration of the National Space Council, hypersonic technology development and use of small satellites. It would also have a “stretch goal,” he said, “ of human exploration of the entire solar system by the end of the century.”
Based on this statement, it seems that the column is a Robert Walker space policy, not a Donald Trump space policy.
Trump himself until now has said little about space. In November 2015, on the New Hampshire campaign trail, Trump told a ten-year old by that filling potholes is more important than NASA.
Earlier this week, Trump bailed on a tour of Kennedy Space Center for a campaign rally in Sanford, Florida, where he could draw a bigger crowd.
The reason why the campaigns might be paying attention to space may be due to the close margin in the Florida presidential race.
As of this writing, FiveThirtyEight.com projects Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 48.9% to 46.5%. Early voting began October 24 in Florida, so the time left to change minds is very limited.
Even so, it's unlikely that many voters consider space to be the primary deciding factor in choosing their candidate.
UPDATE October 28, 2016 6:15 PM EDT — Florida Today space journalist James Dean reports that Trump's running mate Mike Pence might visit Kennedy Space Center or Brevard County on Monday October 31.
After Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump passed on the opportunity this week, running mate Mike Pence now is expected to visit the Space Coast and meet with aerospace industry representatives on Monday.
Plans remained fluid Friday afternoon, with the Indiana governor at one point kicking off his visit with a tour of Kennedy Space Center.
Even if that does not happen, Pence could participate in a roundtable discussion with local industry leaders organized by the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast and Space Florida, which have invited the presidential candidates to space policy briefings.
The roundtable could be followed by a rally at a location to be confirmed.
As of early Friday evening, the potential Brevard County stop was not listed on an official campaign schedule that included events through Sunday.