Skip navigation

Calls to Action

Presidential Candidates Discuss Autism in Debate

October 16, 2008

(New York - October 16, 2008) During the 3rd Presidential Debate, held on October 15 at Hofstra University, both candidates spoke about autism. In response to a question from CBS News' Bob Schieffer, "why would the country be better off if your running mate became president" the senators made the following remarks:
Sen. McCain: …She (Sarah Palin) also understands special needs families. She understands that autism is on the rise. We've got to find out what's causing it and we've got to reach out to these families and help them and give them the help they need as they raise these very special needs children. She understands that better than almost any American that I know. I'm proud of her.
Sen. Obama: …I think it's very commendable the work she (Sarah Palin) has done on behalf of special needs. I agree with that John. I do just want to point out that autism for example or other special needs will require some additional funding if we're going to get serious in terms of research. That is something that every family that advocates on behalf of disabled children talks about. And if we have an across the board spending freeze we're not going to be able to do it.
In response to the Bob Schieffer's question "Do you think the federal government should play a larger role in the schools and I mean federal money?" the senators made the following remarks:
Sen. Obama: I do think it is important for the federal government to step up and help local school districts do the things they need to do….We did the right thing by saying every school should provide education for children with special needs but we never followed through on the promise of funding, and that left local school districts very cash strapped.
Sen. McCain: In town hall meeting after town hall meeting, parents come with kids, children, precious children who have autism. Sarah Palin knows about that better than most. And we'll find, and we'll spend the money on research to find the cause of autism, and we'll care for these young children and all Americans will open their wallets and their hearts to do so.