Welcome back to 2016 POTUS Candidates and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Today I’ll briefly look at former Governor Mike Huckabee, former Senator Rick Santorum, former Governor George Pataki, and Senator Lindsey Graham.


Mike Huckabee

Quick biography of candidate

Michael Dale Huckabee was born 24 August 1955 in Hope, Arkansas to Dorsey Wiles Huckabee and Mae Huckabee (née Elder). Mike grew up in Arkansas, attending Ouachita Baptist University (bachelor’s degree, Religion) before attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for a year. He left the seminary to start working for a televangelist, a few years later he was a pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff AR, before transferring to Beech Street Baptist Church in Texarkana AR. He stopped being a pastor in 1992 to run for an occupied US Senate seat, and lost, but he ran in 1993 for the open Lieutenant Governor seat and won. He won re-election in 1994, and in 1996 Arkansas’s governor resigned, placing Huckabee into the governor’s mansion. He won elections in 1998 and 2002, serving until the end of his term-limited second full term. In 2007-2008 he ran a presidential campaign, winning the first election of the Republican nomination process, but then withdrawing after failing to win many more states. Since then he has been involved in both television (Huckabee, on Fox News Channel) and radio (“The Mike Huckabee Show”), as well as writing some books, including God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy. And he’s friends with Chuck Norris, apparently.

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Does this candidate have a STEM background?

This looks like a no.

Governor Mike Huckabee, in April 2001, congratulating Canada on preserving their National Igloo

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Rick Santorum

Quick biography of candidate

Richard John Santorum was born 10 May 1958 in Winchester, Virginia to Aldo Santorum, who immigrated as a child to the US from Italy and Catherine Santorum (née Dughi). Aldo, Catherine, Rick, and their other two children lived in West Virginia for a time, Rick spent much of his childhood in Pennsylvania, and Rick finished his high school education in Illinois. Rick attended Pennsylvania State University (BA, politicial science, 1980), University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School of Business (MBA, 1981) and PSU’s Dickinson School of Law (JD, 1986). He worked as a lawyer until 1990 when he started running for a US Representative seat viewed as vulnerable. He won that election and re-election in 1992. In 1994 he challenged an incumbent for a US Senate seat, and won, ran for re-election in 2000 (won), and again in 2006 (lost). Since then he has consulted, commented on Fox News Channel, written opinion columns, and practiced law. In 2012 he ran for President as a Republican candidate, getting the second largest number of votes. Since then he has edited a book, written more opinion columns, become the CEO of a film studio, and helped raise his 7 children.

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Does this candidate have a STEM background?

Nope.


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George Pataki

Quick biography of candidate

George Elmer Pataki was born 24 June 1945 in Peekskill, New York to Louis Pataki and Margaret Pataki (née Lagana). George grew up in Peekskill, on a farm that his father’s grandparents owned, graduating from high school there, and attended Yale University (BA, unsure what major, 1967) and Columbia Law School (JD, 1970). He became a partner in a law firm in 1974, and didn’t really plan on gaining political power. But then he ran for mayor (of his hometown, Peekskill) in 1981, serving two two-year terms. In 1984 he was elected to the New York State Assembly, re-elected in 1986, 1988, and 1990. In 1992 he ran successfully for a seat in the New York State Senate. In 1994 he decided to run against a Democratic-incumbent for the New York governor election, winning the race narrowly, possibly because of a Howard Stern (?!?!) endorsement. Pataki won 1998 and 2002 re-election campaigns relatively easily. Declining to run for a fourth-term, he left the governor’s office in 2007 and joined a law firm. Since then, he has formed an environmental consulting firm, and been a US delegate to the United Nations.

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Does this candidate have a STEM background?

I couldn’t easily find out what he majored in at Yale, but it doesn’t look so. He knows some things about farming, that could include some STEM background.


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Lindsey Graham

Quick biography of candidate

Lindsey Olin Graham was born 9 July 1955 in Central, South Carolina to Florence James Graham and Millie Graham. He grew up in that town, including attending high school there, before starting college. He finished two degrees at the University of South Carolina, a BA in Psychology in 1977 and a JD from the USC School of Law in 1981. He became a Judge Advocate in the US Air Force in 1982, and spent most of 1984-1988 in Europe working military law there. After, he returned to South Carolina, leaving active duty in 1989 but continuing to serve on occasion, and became an assistant county attorney. In 1992 he won a seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives, in 1994 he won an open seat in the US House of Representatives, won re-elections in 1996, 1998, and 2000, and ran for an open US Senate seat in 2002. After winning that election, Mr. Graham has subsequently won two re-election campaigns in 2008 and 2014, and continues to serve in the US Senate, where he has earned a legacy of pushing for US military intervention and not knowing how to use electronic mail.

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Does this candidate have a STEM background?

He has a bachelor’s degree in a scientific field, but, on the other hand, as of March, he had never sent an email.


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How old do they think the world is?

Mr. Huckabee doesn’t want to say. In a June 2007 debate, he said he didn’t know if the Earth was created 6000 years ago: “I said I don’t know. My point is, I don’t know; I wasn’t there.” Many, but not all, Southern Baptists adhere to a young-earth belief, and Mr. Huckabee’s refusal to answer directly indicates he might be an adherent of such a ridiculous notion. On October 2013, his Facebook mentioned a rock being at Goblin Valley State Park being present for millions of years, a statement many commenters took umbrage at. I don’t know if he writes his own Facebook posts so I don’t know if that was his own statement.

Mr. Santorum has never stated his thoughts. In August 2011 he said “I believe in Genesis 1:1 - God created the heavens and the earth. I don’t know exactly how God did it or exactly how long it took him, but I do know that He did it,” which can be interpreted in a lot of ways.

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I could not find any answer for Mr. Pataki.

I could not find any answer for Mr. Graham.


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Do they think humans naturally evolved from other apes?

Mr. Huckabee says no. In 2004 he said that “Darwinism is not an established scientific fact. It is a theory of evolution, that’s why it’s called the theory of evolution.” In that previously mentioned June 2007 debate, he ridiculed the notion that humans are descendants of primates: “But, you know, if anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it. I don’t know how far they will march that back.” He followed up with: “If you want to believe that you and your family came from apes, that’s fine. I’ll accept that … I just don’t happen to think that I did.” This might mean Mike Huckabee is an amazing case of convergent evolution who just happens to look like a human; science must find out.

Mr. Santorum says no. In 2001, while in the US Senate, he was an active proponent of intelligent design legislation, including the Santorum Amendment, which would have required US elementary and secondary science education to “help students to understand why this subject [biological evolution] generates so much continuing controversy”. In August 2011 he stated “If [an opponent] wants to believe that he is the descendant of a monkey, then he has the right to believe that - but I disagree with him on this and the many other liberal beliefs he shares with Democrats.” In September 2011 he was asked if he “believes” in evolution and he said he “believes” in “micro” evolution.

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Mr. Pataki might. Earlier this year he said it’s “absurd” that other GOP candidates “are talking about things like measles vaccines and evolution”, which might mean he thinks it’s absurd that any national political candidate would think evolution is not true. Or absurd that they would spend time talking about that as opposed to a useful question. I can’t tell what he meant.

I could not find any answer for Mr. Graham.


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Do they think human activity is warming the planet?

Mr. Huckabee used to say yes and now says no. In May of 2007 he said: “Whether humans are responsible for the bulk of climate change is going to be left to the scientists, but it’s all of our responsibility to leave this planet in better shape for the future generations than we found it.” In October of 2007 he said: “One thing that all of us have a responsibility to do is recognize that climate change is here, it’s real. That what we have to do is quit pointing fingers as to who’s at fault and recognize that it’s all our fault and it’s all our responsibility to fix it.” But more recently he has started repeating very refuted statements about climate and in June of this year, when asked about his 2007 statements, he claimed that “science is not as settled on that [whether humans are warming the planet] as it is on some things.”

Mr. Santorum does not. In June 2008 he claimed “no one really knows the role that man-made carbon dioxide plays in the larger scheme of climate change”. In June 2011 (no apologies for the low quality of that link) he said it is “patently absurd” that human greenhouse gas emissions could cause climate change, accusing AGW science of being “a beautifully concocted scheme” and “junk science” by “the left” as an excuse to make more government regulations. In 2015, in response to a papal encyclical agreeing that climate change is human-caused, Mr. Santorum stated that he thought “we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists”

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Mr. Pataki does. While governor of New York, he helped create the first state-based cap-and-trade carbon emissions project in the US, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. In 2007 he was a co-chair of the Council on Foreign Relation’s “Confronting Climate Change” task force, which recommended that the US negotiate to create a global climate accord… but not sign onto any deal which didn’t include support from relatively-low-emitting-per-person countries like China and India. And in comments earlier this year he stated that he doesn’t think that the federal government should be what regulates US carbon emissions.

Mr. Graham does, claiming that he’s “OK with the science behind climate change”. In January of this year, he voted for Senate legislation which declared that humans are significantly contributing to climate change. Generally, over the years in the US Senate, after some resistance to climate issues in 2003, he has been one of the few Republicans working to encourage the US to reduce carbon emissions. But… he really doesn’t want government to be the one that causes that reduction. He doesn’t think that the US Environmental Protection Agency should regulate greenhouse gas emissions, voting against such regulations multiple times in his legislative career.


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Do they think that human lives begin at conception?

Mr. Huckabee does, as recently as June of this year and at the 10-candidate debate in early August. In 2002 he opposed legal abortion except in cases of maternal life risk, and it doesn’t look like he has changed his mind on that, making multiple comparisons between the Nazi Holocaust and legalized abortion in America. I’m not making this up.

Mr. Santorum does, although it’s not certain when he came to think this. In 1990 he argued that it would be difficult to criminalize abortion and that in some cases (rape, incest, maternal health risk) it “cannot be prohibited by legislation,” which suggests that he didn’t think that fetal personhood was a thing. By June 2011 he no longer thought that abortion should be legally accepted, and said that abortion providers should be charged with a criminal act, including referring to maternal health exceptions as “phony exceptions”.

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Mr. Pataki might, he identifies as Catholic. In 1990 he said he was pro-life. But by 1994, when running for Governor of New York, he claimed to be pro-choice. This seemed odd in light of his legislative career, which included blocking state public funding for abortion, and blocking minors from abortion access without parental approval. “I do not think the state of New York should take away the right of a woman to choose,” he said then. In 2005 as NY Governor he vetoed a bill that would have made emergency contraception available without a prescription. At the 7-candidate debate in early August he stated that Roe v. Wade is law and shouldn’t be changed. I am finding it difficult to easily summarize his viewpoint, because it might not be completely related to how he chooses to govern/legislate.

Mr. Graham does. His legislative record is strongly for restricting abortion access and against embryonic stem cell research. His 2016 presidential campaign website claims “the inalienable right to life of every innocent human being is an essential element of a civil society.” While in the Senate he has introduced legislation promoting the scientifically-inaccurate claim that 20-week-old fetuses are capable of feeling pain.


Executive summary

Mike Huckabee: Mr. Huckabee has grown worse as a STEM-knowledgeable person over time, it’s interesting. F, because eff him comparing abortion providers to Nazis.

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Rick Santorum: Mr. Santorum has also grown less-knowledgeable-sounding over time, but on at least one topic (the age of the Earth) I have nothing to grade him on. D-, only avoiding an F because of lack of knowledge of his true position on a topic.

George Pataki: Mr. Pataki spent 26 years in public office, seemingly without pandering to young-earth creationists or climate change contrarians. B+, his Catholic faith prevents him from being as pro-choice as he claims to be.

Lindsey Graham: Mr. Graham has spent 22 years in public office without any mention of young-earth creationism, but he has had some unscientific statements about climate and developmental science. C, unless he says more unscientific things.

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Next up:

Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Bobby Jindal

Images in post from Matters of Taste, Ethan Siegel’s blog at scienceblogs.com, Wikimedia user TimVickers’s modification of an illustration from Huxley’s 1863 book Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature, a blog that seems to have stopped adding new content, and a page at biologypop.com