Will space aliens become an election issue in 2020?
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) says he's prepared to disclose any government information about unidentified flying objects (UFOs) — but only if he wins, and mainly because his wife, Jane, asked him to.
"Well I tell you, my wife would demand I let you know," Sanders told podcast host Joe Rogan on Tuesday (Aug. 8), according to Fox News, even promising he would announce the findings on the podcast. (You can see the full podcast here.)
Rogan asked if Jane was a "UFO nut", which Sanders denied. Jane, however, has been pressing the candidate about what information he might have right now, as a senator. "She goes, Bernie, 'What is going on [that] you know? Do you have any access?'" Sanders said.
It's unclear, however, if the Republicans will push this issue into election headlines. In June, U.S. President Donald Trump — who will run again for the Republican party in 2020 — told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that he also received a briefing about recent sightings by military pilots. "I did have one very brief meeting on it," he said. "But people are saying they're seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly."
Although this debate sounds like a rehash of conversations surrounding the 1950s- and 1960s-era Project Blue Book, a famous set of Air Force studies concerning UFOs that shut down in 1970 amid a lack of evidence, it does have more recent origins.
Earlier this year, the New York Times reported that pilots with the U.S. Navy saw swiftly flying UFOs several times off the East Coast in 2014 and 2015. But the reports of these vehicles don't necessarily point to something extraterrestrial, experts caution.
For example: the sightings happened shortly after a radar system was upgraded in the jets. "As anybody who uses Microsoft products knows, whenever you upgrade any technical product, there are always problems," Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California, told Space.com in May.
But there's been so much attention on the issue that in June, the Defense Department briefed Mark Warner (D-Va), the Senate's intelligence committee vice chairman, about these encounters — along with two senators, Politico reported. But it appears the motivation was focused more on safety than finding visitors.
"If naval pilots are running into unexplained interference in the air, that's a safety concern Senator Warner believes we need to get to the bottom of," Warner spokesperson Rachel Cohen said in a statement to Politico at the time.
While we wait on party positions on space aliens for 2020, remember that this isn't the first time the issue popped up in talks with a Democratic presidential candidate. In 2016, Hilary Clinton promised New Hampshire's Conway Daily Sun News that she would "get to the bottom" of the UFO phenomenon. She added that Earth may have been visited already by aliens, but "we don't know for sure."
However, it is unclear how seriously Clinton was speaking to the newspaper, which is located in a key state for the election primaries.
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