Mitt Romney, along with Jon Huntsman and Chris Christie, is among the prominent Republicans who claim to believe in climate change but have no interest in doing anything about it. Will this electoral strategy work?
Early indications are pointing to no. As Steve Benen explains, his attempt to split the difference on the issue is unlikely to please anyone. “Those who recognize the problem won’t care for the negligent attitude, and those who believe the problem is a “hoax” won’t care for the acknowledgement of reality,” Steve points out. And that seems to be exactly how it is playing out.
Climate bloggers like Joe Romm and Brad Johnson, among others, have denounced Romney’s lack of clarity on the issue and the fact that he doesn’t have a plan to address it. Meanwhile, conservatives have attacked Romney for taking a mainstream position on the science.
Media Matters has documented how conservative media outlets have responded to Romney’s professed belief in the science, and it isn’t pretty:
- Romney’s Comments “Raise Serious Questions About His Candidacy.” – A June 3 JunkScience.com post.
- “If Mitt Romney Is The GOP Nominee, The Big Winner Might Be Al Gore.” – A June 4 post on MichelleMalkin.com
- “Another Big Govt Republican Sniffs The AGW [anthropogenic global warming] Glue.” – ClimateDepot.com.
But those are just right-wing blogs. What about those with more influence in the Republican party?
And the ultra-conservative Club for Growth released a Presidential White Paper on Romney, criticizing the candidate’s stance on the issue:
- “Governor Romney’s regulatory record as governor contains some flaws including a significant one – his support of “global warming” policies.”
- “On climate change, Romney In 2004 unveiled a comprehensive “Climate Protection Plan” that pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions by 25% by 2012. It would achieve this by doing several things, including an “aggressive” implementation of the California Low Emission Vehicle program, which has standards that are typically more stringent than the EPA’s. It would also subsidize the upgrade of inefficient oil burners owned by low-income citizens. Romney said the plan would show Massachusetts’ commitment to implementing the regional climate change plan adopted by several New England states.”
As Steve Benen pointed out, there really isn’t much of a constituency for politicians who believe in climate change but don’t believe in doing anything about it. People who accept the reality of climate change want politicians to do something about it. And people who don’t believe in climate change don’t want politicians to admit that it is happening. Politically, Romney would be better off taking one of two routes:
1. Go all in, admitting that climate change is a problem and putting forth a legitimate plan to solve it. This would help him considerably in the general election, should he make it that far.
2. Take the route most other Republicans are taking, denying that it is a problem and opposing all possible solutions. This would help him considerably in the Republican primary, in which 7 in 10 voters or so won’t be concerned about climate change.
Update — In a piece published last night, the Washington Post makes a similar point.
- GOP workers & activists: 3
- Polluter-funded front groups: 2
- Rush Limbaugh: 1
- Climate scientists: 0
Update 3 — Jed Lewison nails it:
They seem to think that picking one or two positions that are unpopular with Republican base voters will suddenly make those same voters forget about all his other flip-flops, but that isn’t what will happen: instead, they’re just pissing off more folks by taking an unpopular position. And far from providing proof of Mitt Romney’s authenticity, saying he believes in climate change but doesn’t want to do anything about is is just one more example of an issue where he wants to have it both ways.
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