The Washington Examiner’s Transcript of our interview with Mitt Romney published here has this mention of cold fusion from the Republican Presidential candidate:
CARNEY: What role should government have in promoting certain industries or economic activities such as homeownership, or manufacturing, renewable energy or fossil fuel energy, exports, or just advanced technology? What sort of subsidies and incentives do you favor? You had some of these in Massachusetts, I know.
ROMNEY: Very limited — my answer to your first question. I’m not an advocate of industrial policy being formed by a government. I do believe in the power of free markets, and when the government removes the extraordinary burdens that it puts on markets, why I think markets are more effective at guiding a prosperous economy than is the government.
So for instance, I would not be investing massive dollars in electric car companies in California. I think Tesla and Fisker are delightful-looking vehicles, but I somehow imagine that Toyota, Nissan, and even General Motors will produce a more cost-effective electric car than either Tesla or Fisker. I think it is bad policy for us to be investing hundreds of millions of dollars in specific companies and specific technologies, and developing those technologies.
I do believe in basic science. I believe in participating in space. I believe in analysis of new sources of energy. I believe in laboratories, looking at ways to conduct electricity with — with cold fusion, if we can come up with it. It was the University of Utah that solved that. We somehow can’t figure out how to duplicate it.
But basic science, in my view, is a way that research can encourage our entire economy. And so, for instance, in Michigan, some years ago — I think it was in 2007 — I spoke there and said, you know, I think we ought to embark upon an effort to do analysis on energy research, transportation research, materials research. But again, basic research which could then be either purchased by or licensed by companies foreign and domestic.
CARNEY: For instance, nuclear power right now is getting loan guarantees under both Bush and Obama policies to help develop nuclear power more rapidly. Is that the sort of thing that you would support?
ROMNEY: My inclination would be to do this: It would be to say that – if we went to the nuclear people and they say that, you know, if you could give us our permits in three years, then we wouldn’t need any help. And so what I might be willing to do is say we will either give you your permits in three years or refund the money to you we’ve invested to build the facility or to reach this point. We will, in effect, give a guarantee that you will not be prevented from developing nuclear power by virtue of government’s malfeasance and ineffectiveness. And so rather than saying, here, we’ll give you a bunch of money to build a nuclear facility, we would instead guarantee certain government action.
In an area, sometimes it’s hard to find the line between research and development. In the area of nuclear research, for instance, there is discussion of an entirely different technology for building very small nuclear plants that use a pebble-type technology, as opposed to the rods that – you’re familiar with this – there’s a discussion about building a model facility to see if that technology actually works. I actually consider that research. It would be owned by the government; perhaps we’d hire companies to build it; and we’d see if it works. And if so, then that technology could be licensed to any number of companies, again, foreign or domestic, to build facilities here and around the world.
That, again, is if we don’t think that there is going to be sufficient interest in that part of industry to carry out research which has a very high-risk of failure and requires a great deal of resources.
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Access audio of this statement at the 3:30 mark.
Cold fusion is mentioned at 5:06 mark.