With the 2024 election ahead, TechTarget Editorial is assessing the technology stances of most candidates running for president, including President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. We are researching and collating stances on artificial intelligence, policy plans for China, climate change, H-1B visas and the U.S. workforce. As issues emerge and positions change, we will continue to update this election primer.
Editor's note: After frontrunners Joe Biden (D) and Donald Trump (R), each candidate is listed by party affiliation in alphabetical order.
The recent boom of generative AI has propelled the technology, including machine learning and deep learning, into the spotlight. AI is also causing concern among political leaders, with the European Union advancing the EU AI Act, while regulation is becoming a hot topic for Congress.
Joe Biden (D), U.S. president, signed an executive order on AI that will require large AI systems developers to report safety results to the U.S. government.
Donald Trump (R), former U.S. president, supported federal investment in AI research and development. Trump issued an executive order in 2019 that focused on the U.S. driving technical breakthroughs in AI and creating standards for the technology's use.
Chris Christie (R), former New Jersey governor, opposes AI regulation. During the October 2023 Republican presidential primary debate, Christie said he would make sure every U.S. innovator gets the government "off its back." He supports the use of AI to augment human workers.
Ron DeSantis (R), Florida governor, has shared concerns about data used by AI systems, noting there should be limits as to what AI can do. During a forum in September 2023, DeSantis said ignoring AI would put the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage with China. He said he would have a "nimble" AI policy and noted one of his AI principles would focus on ensuring the workforce isn't displaced by AI.
Asa Hutchinson (R), former Arkansas governor, unveiled an AI interface on his campaign website to field questions about his positions on issues. When prompted, "What do you think about regulating artificial intelligence?" the interface responded that AI needs to be carefully studied before the government begins "imposing any rules."
Vivek Ramaswamy (R), biotech entrepreneur, said the U.S. cannot adopt "blanket bans" but thinks companies using AI should be held liable if it negatively affects individuals. He recognizes the benefits of AI, noting use of the technology in his own company but also acknowledges its risks.
Dean Phillips (D), Minnesota representative, supports guardrails for AI. In June, Phillips posted on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter: "If the international community doesn't take immediate steps to manage artificial intelligence, it will surely manage us."
Marianne Williamson (D), author and political activist. Her potential policy on AI is unclear, but in June, she posted on X: "Hard to imagine a greater man-made danger to humanity than nuclear bombs but AI might be it." She said the threat of AI outweighs its benefits.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I), environmental lawyer, supports AI regulation, particularly AI safety.
Candidates whose positions on AI could not be ascertained include Nikki Haley (R), former South Carolina governor; and Cornel West (I), academic and political activist.
Doug Burgum (R), North Dakota governor, supports using AI to make "government services more effective" and to improve healthcare and education. He also said it's important to think about guardrails for AI.
Mike Pence (R), former U.S. vice president, said it's time for the U.S. to engage in a discussion about the effects of AI on the economy and privacy.
Tim Scott (R), South Carolina senator, believes it's important to prepare for AI, which includes helping the next generation think critically about such tech.
Big tech regulation
Republicans and Democrats often disagree on the approach to regulating big tech companies, such as Meta, Google, Apple and Amazon, which are being scrutinized for business competition and data practices. While Democrats focus on business models, with some in Congress suggesting breaking the companies up, Republicans focus on regulating social media platforms for censoring content.
Joe Biden (D) signed an executive order promoting competition in July 2021, which played a role in prompting antitrust enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice (DOJ), to file antitrust lawsuits against Meta and Google.
Donald Trump (R). During the Trump administration in 2020, the DOJ sued Google for alleged monopolization of online search. In 2021, Trump targeted social media platforms, suing Meta, X and YouTube owner Google for removing him from their platforms.
Chris Christie (R) decries censoring political content. He said letting big tech companies moderate content is a "very dangerous slope to go down."
Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill in 2021 to hold big tech accountable and safeguard Floridians' ability to "access and participate in online platforms." DeSantis has spoken against social media platforms censoring political content.
Nikki Haley (R) opposes censorship practices of social media platforms when it comes to political viewpoints.
Asa Hutchinson (R) believes in a cautious approach to big tech regulation. However, he thinks government can play a role in protecting personal data and ensuring technology is used responsibly.
Vivek Ramaswamy (R) wants political expression classified as a civil right to limit the ability of social media platforms to censor political discourse.
Marianne Williamson (D) said the U.S. government should regulate big tech but has not detailed specific actions.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) accuses big tech platforms and the federal government of conspiring to "surveil and censor the public."
Cornel West (I) wants to break up big tech companies.
Candidates whose positions on big tech regulation could not be ascertained include Dean Phillips (D).
Doug Burgum (R). His position on big tech regulation is unclear.
Mike Pence (R). In 2022, he tweeted that big tech and big business have "locked arms to advance a pernicious woke ideology designed to control the American people."
Tim Scott (R) introduced the Political Bias in Algorithm Sorting Emails Act to hold big tech companies accountable for using "biased algorithms" that alter the way consumers see emails from political campaigns.
China and tech
World leaders are looking to broaden their tech supply chains beyond China, which exercises control over areas of manufacturing and mining, including critical components of clean energy devices, such as solar panels and lithium batteries for electric vehicles. China is also a significant producer of semiconductor chips used in phones and computers.
Joe Biden (D) has imposed export controls on technologies such as semiconductor chips and limited business investment capabilities for technologies including AI in China.
Donald Trump (R) ordered tariffs on Chinese imports, including products such as solar panels, steel and aluminum.
Chris Christie (R) wants to ban Chinese-owned apps, like TikTok, and prevent intelligence gathering and intellectual property theft by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Ron DeSantis (R) signed three bills in 2023 targeting China, which limit China's ability to purchase agricultural land or land near critical infrastructure and military bases in Florida, stop sensitive data from being stored on servers owned by Chinese affiliates, and address Chinese influence in Florida's education systems.
Nikki Haley (R) has argued for cracking down on China and strengthening the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. She wants to end trade relations with China until it stops its role in moving fentanyl over the U.S. southern border.
Asa Hutchinson (R) supports manufacturing reshoring and supply chain diversification. He also encourages stronger economic competition with China and has a strong human rights stance, according to his website chatbot.
Vivek Ramaswamy (R) seeks to ban U.S. businesses from expanding in China, according to his website. He also wants to stop the CCP from purchasing U.S. land and to hold the CCP accountable for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dean Phillips (D) voted to pass the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, a policy package aiming to boost competition with China by investing in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and tech research and development.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) doesn't believe in taking trade action against China but agrees with bringing tech industries, such as semiconductor manufacturing, back to the U.S.
Candidates whose positions on China and tech could not be ascertained include Marianne Williamson (D) and Cornel West (I).
Doug Burgum (R) wants to unite the country against "enemies like China."
Mike Pence (R) in September 2023 called China the "greatest strategic and economic threat" to the U.S. As part of the Trump administration, Pence implemented tariffs on Chinese goods in 2018.
Tim Scott (R) has introduced several bills targeting China, including the Protect Our Bases Act to stop CCP land purchases near military bases and other sensitive locations.
The next U.S. president will set the tone for climate policy, incentives and regulatory advances, affecting how CIOs will align business sustainability goals to federal demands. New policies could require businesses to assess and report on carbon emissions throughout their supply chains, develop more sustainable business practices and invest in clean energy. On this issue, there are sharp differences between Democrats and Republicans.
Joe Biden (D) supports climate action and led passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides clean energy incentives to businesses. He has also set a goal to cut U.S. carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.
Donald Trump (R) has denied climate change. During his term as president, he reversed former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which set limits on carbon pollution from power plants. He rolled back other environmental protections as he championed oil, natural gas and coal industries.
Chris Christie (R) supports expansion of all energy sources, including nuclear power. He said he doesn't believe the U.S. should disarm economically while moving to cleaner power sources.
Ron DeSantis (R) holds complex climate policy views. While he opposes climate regulations, signing a bill earlier this year prohibiting state officials from investing public funds in promoting environmental, social and governance goals, he sees a need for climate resilience. DeSantis signed a $640 million infrastructure bill in 2021 in response to sea level rise.
Nikki Haley (R) recognizes the reality of climate change but stops short of endorsing government intervention. Instead, she advocates for measures such as encouraging fossil fuel companies to invest in carbon-capture technologies. She supported the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.
Asa Hutchinson (R) doesn't support federal involvement in reducing carbon emissions and wants to end the "war on fossil fuels." He does support market-led transition toward clean energy sources.
Vivek Ramaswamy (R) has staunchly denied climate change. His campaign website outlines goals to "abandon the climate cult," and he supports oil drilling, fracking and burning coal. During the first Republican presidential primary debate, he claimed Biden's clean energy polices stifled innovation.
Dean Phillips (D) voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act and has supported legislation in Minnesota cementing environmental protections.
Marianne Williamson (D) supports a "full scale climate emergency mobilization effort." She aims to reduce global warming and lead the planet toward long-term sustainability.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) wants to advance U.S. climate policy and "rebuild a broad environmental coalition to clean up this country."
Cornel West (I) wants to declare a climate emergency and end all oil and gas projects on federal lands and waters. He also wants to place a federal moratorium on "false climate solutions," such as carbon-capture technologies, and rescind the Inflation Reduction Act.
Doug Burgum (R) set a goal for North Dakota to be carbon neutral by 2030. He supports market-led innovation in reducing carbon emissions and the voluntary adoption of clean energy.
Mike Pence (R) acknowledges the human effect on climate but believes climate change concerns are exaggerated. He supports eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency and ending Inflation Reduction Act tax credits for green retrofitting of buildings.
Tim Scott (R) has not supported measures to address climate change. He wants to expand U.S. energy production and has championed offshore oil drilling.
Multiple bills introduced in Congress over the last two years aimed to create a federal data privacy law that would set guardrails for businesses collecting user data and establish consumer protections. The data privacy issue has become prominent, particularly since the rise in popularity of social media app TikTok, which Chinese firm ByteDance owns. Multiple U.S. states have banned the app from government devices.
A federal data privacy law has yet to pass in the U.S. as Republicans and Democrats struggle to agree on what such a law should entail.
Joe Biden (D) called on Congress to pass bipartisan data privacy legislation in his executive order on AI.
Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill in June 2023 creating a Digital Bill of Rights, which gives Florida consumers the right to control companies' access to personal data.
Asa Hutchinson (R) amended Arkansas's Personal Information Protection Act in 2019 to broaden the definition of personal information and introduced new requirements for breach notifications. Under Hutchinson's leadership, Arkansas also banned TikTok in 2023 to protect government data.
Vivek Ramaswamy (R) wants to ban social media for children under the age of 16, according to his website.
Dean Phillips (D) introduced a bill in 2021 to designate certain government surveillance tactics as human rights abuses. He recognizes the benefits of new technologies but said they also threaten the ability to control private information.
Candidates whose positions on data privacy could not be ascertained include Chris Christie (R), Nikki Haley (R), Marianne Williamson (D), Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) and Cornel West (I).
Doug Burgum (R) signed an order banning TikTok from government devices in 2022, saying "protecting citizens' data is our top priority."
Mike Pence (R) called for a U.S. ban on TikTok, which he said compromises consumer privacy.
Tim Scott (R) introduced the Know Your App Act in May 2023, mandating app stores to disclose information about the development, location and ownership of apps.
Gig work and unions
Under the gig employment model, workers are independent contractors rather than employees and use apps to manage their schedule and assignments. That's in contrast to temp services, where workers typically have status as employees. Currently, there is a policy debate over whether gig workers should be employees, eligible for benefits and legal protections. In 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a rule that may help expand unionization to gig work. How candidates see the role of unions might reveal how they feel about unionization of gig workers and the tech industry generally.
Joe Biden (D). The Biden administration wants labor protections expanded to gig workers. The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed a rule allowing more gig workers to be reclassified as temp workers. Biden has also repeatedly called for more union workers, something that may have been facilitated by a recent NLRB ruling.
Donald Trump (R). His administration adopted a rule that made it easier for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors. He is an opponent of unions.
Chris Christie (R) is a strong critic of teachers' unions.
Nikki HaleyFormer governor of South Carolina
Ron DeSantis (R) signed a law that allows businesses to provide financial or other benefits to a gig worker during an emergency without creating a formal employer-employee relationship.
Nikki Haley (R) outlined her view on unions in a 2012 State of the State address as governor of South Carolina: "I love that we are one of the least unionized states in the country. It is an economic development tool like no other."
Asa Hutchinson (R) supports the gig economy and wants social programs modernized, including portable health insurance, to facilitate its expansion, according to his website chatbot.
Vivek Ramaswamy (R) is taking a gig-like approach to fundraising. People who help him raise funds will get a cut of the donation. He has called for the elimination of federal employee unions, according to his website.
Dean Phillips (D) showed support for the recent United Auto Workers (UAW) strike.
Marianne Williamson (D) described the Writers Guild of America strike "as a pivotal moment in the counteroffensive against vulture capitalism."
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) backed the UAW strike and said he will support labor.
Cornel West (I) said the U.S. has an "oligarchic economy" that benefits the wealthy.
Doug Burgum (R) holds an unclear position on gig work but doesn't believe unions are necessary for good worker outcomes.
Mike Pence (R) has supported right-to-work laws, giving workers choice whether they want to join a union. His view on gig work was likely reflected by Trump administration actions, which were supportive of independent workers.
Tim Scott (R) introduced legislation to preserve the employment flexibility of gig and other independent workers.
H-1B work visa program
Without legislation by Congress, a president cannot change the annual 85,000 H-1B visa cap. However, regulatory and administrative capabilities give a president the power to affect corporate access to the program.
Joe Biden (D). After taking office in 2021, Biden reversed some of Trump's H-1B initiatives, including an effort to block new visas, and visa approval rates increased. Biden has cited the Senate's 2013 comprehensive immigration bill, which wasn't considered by the House, as a potential model for H-1B reform, which proposes raising the H-1B cap from 85,000 to 205,000, increasing visa wages and limiting companies to having at most 50% of the workforce on a visa.
Donald Trump (R) promised to reform the program. As president, his administration challenged visa petitions from offshore outsourcing firms through administrative oversight and visa rule changes. In the closing days of his presidency, his administration issued a rule to raise wages of H-1B workers by adopting a wage-based distribution system instead of the lottery, a proposal the U.S. federal court struck down. In 2024, Trump's focus has been on broader immigration issues and border security.
Ron DeSantis (R) is a critic of the H-1B program, saying he doesn't "support undercutting American wages."
Nikki Haley (R) has broadly called for Congress to act on immigration reform. She has argued for bringing people into the U.S. "based on merit" and economic needs.
Asa Hutchinson (R) supports merit-based immigration and wants a work visa system that supports policies that require good-faith efforts to hire American workers and hold employers accountable for fair wages and working conditions, according to his website chatbot.
Vivek Ramaswamy (R) called the program a form of indentured servitude and said he wants the H-1B visa lottery replaced by meritocratic admission. Ramaswamy's company, Roivant Sciences, sponsored H-1B visa holders for data analyst, machine learning engineer and clinical database programmer positions. He stepped down from his role as the board chair in February.
Dean Phillips (D) was a co-sponsor of the Eagle Act, which removed per-country caps for green cards. The bill failed to advance in 2022.
Marianne Williamson (D) calls for expanding "the number of visas available to immigrants."
Candidates whose positions on the H-1B visa program could not be ascertained include Chris Christie (R), Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) and Cornel West (I).
Doug Burgum (R) supports increasing visas for skilled workers. "We want to help highly educated, highly skilled people that want to come to the United States to work for U.S. companies be able to do that," he said.
Mike Pence (R) said in September the U.S. "should end H-1B visas in the United States in the high-tech sector "where there are national security implications" in a post on X. Pence's comment is aimed at China, accounting for about 12% of all H-1B users.
Tim Scott (R) supports a merit-based point system on immigration that favors candidates with needed skills, including science, technology, engineering and math skills.
Section 230 and online content moderation
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act shields digital platform operators such as Meta, X and YouTube from liability for content posted by third parties. Democrats want to limit Section 230 liability protections. Republicans want Section 230 changed to restrict social media platforms from moderating content.
Joe Biden (D) has called for Section 230 reform to make it easier for consumers to file lawsuits against big tech companies and hold digital platforms accountable.
Donald Trump (R) wants to repeal Section 230. He issued an executive order in 2020 to curb digital platforms' ability to remove certain online content.
Ron DeSantis (R) believes in limiting platforms' ability to remove online content. He signed a state Senate Bill 7072 into law in 2021 that would hold big tech companies accountable for censoring content or deplatforming Floridian political candidates.
Nikki Haley (R) has expressed concern over online content moderation.
Asa Hutchinson (R) believes big tech should play a role in online content moderation but also wants to preserve free speech, according to his online AI chatbot AskAsa.
Vivek Ramaswamy (R) wants to amend Section 230. He doesn't believe tech companies should be responsible for moderating online content.
Marianne Williamson (D) believes the federal government needs more regulations governing social media platforms.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) believes in limiting platforms' ability to remove online content. He alleges on his campaign website that government institutions and tech companies are conspiring to "surveil and censor the public."
Candidates whose positions on Section 230 and online content moderation could not be ascertained include Chris Christie (R), Dean Phillips (D) and Cornel West (I).
Doug Burgum (R). His position on Section 230 is unclear.
Mike Pence (R) supported curbing tech platforms' ability to remove online content under the Trump administration.
Tim Scott (R) wants to reform Section 230 and limit tech platforms' ability to moderate online content.
Space is the next business frontier as federal agencies such as NASA partner with commercial companies to study long-duration stays, and businesses continue to launch their own satellites and develop the space tourism industry. The U.S. president will play a critical role in guiding regulations and setting the space policy for the nation.
Joe Biden (D) endorsed NASA's Artemis program in 2021 to establish a long-term presence on the moon. The White House is also working on a legislative proposal for commercial space activities that would split regulatory authority between the Dept. of Commerce and Dept. of Transportation.
Donald Trump (R) signed a space policy in 2017 that pushed for astronauts to return to the moon and encouraged explorations to Mars and beyond. He also signed a law establishing a new branch of the U.S. military, the U.S. Space Force, in 2019.
Ron DeSantis (R) signed the Spaceflight Entity Liability Bill into Florida law in May, which shields commercial space companies such as Blue Origin and SpaceX from liability if crewmembers or passengers are killed or injured during flights. DeSantis has regularly engaged in space development efforts as governor of Florida.
Asa Hutchinson (R) plans to prioritize investments in space exploration, promoting commercial space development and fostering collaboration between government agencies, private industry and international partners, according to Hutchinson's AI interface AskAsa.
Vivek Ramaswamy (R) is in favor of space exploration and supports the U.S. leading the way to "establishing roots" on Mars.
Marianne Williamson (D) supports space exploration but is cautious about how it's done. In a post on X, Williamson said the "weaponization of space is a tragic perversion of our values."
Candidates whose positions on the space industry could not be ascertained include Chris Christie (R), Nikki Haley (R), Dean Phillips (D), Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) and Cornel West (I).
Doug Burgum (R). His position on the space industry is unclear.
Mike Pence (R) supported space exploration during his tenure under the Trump administration and encouraged NASA's plans to return to the moon and engage in exploratory missions to Mars.
Tim Scott (R) appears to support U.S. space exploration, according to a 2021 post on Facebook.
Supercomputers and federal R&D
The U.S. government funds some of the world's priciest supercomputers, generally beyond private sector budgets, and provides research access to universities and businesses. These supercomputers enable advanced simulations for applications like hurricane predictions, drug discovery and engine testing. Political candidates' stances on supercomputing might emerge when comparing U.S. capabilities to China's and could be tied to their positions on federal R&D expenditures.
Joe Biden (D). In 2022, the Biden administration earmarked $1.5 billion under the Inflation Reduction Act to be used for supercomputer development. Some of the semiconductor development work enabled by the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act will be spent on the technology needed for a zettascale supercomputer, or 1,000 exaflops.
Donald Trump (R), as president, funded the $600 million Frontier supercomputer at the federally funded Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the first system exceeding an exaflop. As of June 2023, it topped the Top 500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers. Trump's budget proposals have wavered between increases and decreases in R&D.
Ron DeSantis (R) plans to eliminate the Department of Energy, which is responsible for building many of the supercomputers used by academics and businesses. The department also invests heavily in basic and applied research.
Nikki Haley (R) has been a board member of Boeing, which uses U.S. supercomputers for research. Her broader position on federal R&D is unclear.
Vivek Ramaswamy (R) has proposed cutting the federal workforce by as much as 75%, likely hurting federal R&D.
Dean Phillips (D) voted in favor of the CHIPS Act in 2023, which may be indicative of his position on this topic.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I). His federal R&D views are unclear, but his commitment to science may be questioned because of his stated opposition to the use of vaccines.
Candidates whose positions on supercomputing and federal R&D could not be ascertained include Chris Christie (R), Asa Hutchinson (R), Marianne Williamson (D) and Cornel West (I).
Doug Burgum(R). His position on supercomputing and federal R&D is unclear.
Mike Pence (R) never voiced opposition to investment in supercomputing as a member of the Trump administration. As a candidate, Pence proposed some budget freezes that might affect R&D investment.
Tim Scott (R) did not vote in favor of the CHIPS Act in 2023, which may be indicative of his position on this topic.
Editor's note: This guide was originally published Nov. 8, 2023 and has been updated to reflect changes in candidate stances and campaign statuses.
Makenzie Holland is a news writer covering big tech and federal regulation. Prior to joining TechTarget Editorial, she was a general reporter for the Wilmington StarNews and a crime and education reporter at the Wabash Plain Dealer.
Patrick Thibodeau covers human capital management and ERP technologies. He has worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.