Friday, August 7, 2015

Climate Change a No-Show in the First Republican Presidential Debate

Despite a letter from Jerry Brown and the urgings of Tom Steyer, few were surprised that climate change was a non-issue in the first Republican debate.

Ten of the 17 Republican candidates took the stage for the first GOP presidential debate of the 2016 in Cleveland. Not one of the front runners addressed the issue the a number of polls suggest is important to American voters on both sides of the aisle. However, at the earlier debate featuring the other candidates, climate change was briefly mentioned.

According to a Bloomberg survey released on Tuesday, at 21 percent, Trump has more than double the support of the next strongest candidate Jeb Bush who had only 10 percent. In order of their rankings in the polls the ten leading Republican contenders are real estate developer Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; neurosurgeon Ben Carson; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

California Governor Jerry Brown called on the presidential candidates to tackle climate change in the presidential debate. He sent a letter addressed to Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, and uploaded to the Fox News Channel’s Facebook page, in which he asked: “Given the challenge and the stakes, my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?”

The only candidate to deal with the issue of climate change was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). This was in response to a question from the moderator, Bill Hemmer who asked Graham about his work with Democrats and President Obama on climate change, "something you know is extremely unpopular with conservative Republicans. How can they trust you based on that record?"

Graham responded:
"You can trust me to do the following: that when I get on change with Hillary Clinton, we won’t be debating about the science, we’ll be debating about the solutions. In her world, cap- and-trade would dominate, that we will destroy the economy in the name of helping the environment. In my world, we’ll focus on energy independence and a clean environment. When it comes to fossil fuels, we’re going to find more here and use less. Over time, we’re going to become energy independent. I am tired of sending $300 billion overseas to buy oil from people who hate our guts. The choice between a weak economy and a strong environment is a false choice, that is not the choice I’ll offer America. A healthy environment, a strong economy and energy independent America — that would be the purpose of my presidency, is break the strangle hold that people enjoy on fossil fuels who hate our guts."
Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer also called on Fox News moderators to challenge the Republican presidential candidates participating in the debate to lay out their plans to confront global warming.

"Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, and Americans around the country -- and across the aisle -- are calling for action," reads a memo from Steyer's political action group, Nextgen Climate to Fox News hosts Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace.

Steyer pointed to polls which indicate that supporting a transition to cleaner energy would make a Republican nominee more electable. The memo also points to jobs and other economic benefits that would come from a clean energy economy.

"Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are increasingly competitive with fossil fuels on cost, and installed capacity is growing rapidly as businesses and consumers lead the way forward," the memo reads. "As a result, clean energy jobs are significantly outpacing fossil fuels jobs, with solar jobs growing 20 times faster than the broader economy."

While the candidates did not want to talk about clean energy, they did seem to want to talk about cyber security, government surveillance, ISIS, however climate change was a no-show.

Trump was a target as many of the Republicans present at the debates appeared to understand that Trump is bad for their brand. In what may be the understatement of the year, Bush cautioned that Trump's "divisive" language could be detrimental to the Republican Party.

Trump was center stage even before the prime time debate started. Trump not only offers fodder for comedians he is pushing the discussion on issues like immigration and gender equality beyond the confines of any form of human decency.

We should not expect debate on serious issues like climate change when comb-over king Donald Trump is the leading Republican contender for the Presidential nomination. This is a man who has alienated both Latinos and women. During the debate he reiterated his statement that Mexico is sending criminals to the US and he defended calling women, "fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals."

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