National Journal: Romney Jab Re-Ignited Climate Change Debate

September 7, 2012

The snide, mocking dismissal of the greatest threat to humanity has blown up in Mitt Romney’s face.

National Journal:

After being left out in the cold all year, global warming is making a reappearance on the campaign trail.

President Obama, who campaigned aggressively in 2008 on the promise of fighting climate change, has barely mentioned the subject during this campaign, despite a summer of record heat and drought and news reports linking such extreme weather events to increases in greenhouse gases.

But on Thursday night, under the spotlight at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, just two months from the general election, Obama made his most high-profile mention of the controversial issue this year.

“And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet—because climate change is not a hoax,” Obama said. “More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future. And in this election, you can do something about it,” he said, to a sustained ovation.

Until now, Obama’s advisers calculated that in a campaign centered on the economy, a pledge to save the environment by cutting carbon pollution would fall flat—and create a target for Republican attacks. But Thursday’s remarks could signal a new willingness to address a crucial public-policy issue which both campaigns have until now avoided.

Credit Republican nominee Mitt Romney with putting the spotlight back on the issue, when, during his speech last week, he essentially mocked Obama’s climate agenda. “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet,” he said in his acceptance speech for the party’s presidential nomination, drawing a laugh from delegates at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. “My promise is to help you and your family.”

The jab cried out for a response. Republican advisers said that Romney was not mocking climate change per se, but rather Obama’s lofty rhetoric in a 2008 speech, when he said, “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” But the remark was widely interpreted as a reinforcement of the extreme right-wing view, espoused by Republicans like Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, that climate science is hoax.

Despite conventional campaign wisdom that talking about climate change during economically tough times is a losing issue, some experts say that Romney’s climate jab may have hurt him, while creating a new opening for Obama to win over independent voters. While questioning climate change may have helped Romney win in primaries, polls show that the majority of general-election voters accept climate science.

An August poll from Yale University found that 55 percent of voters say they will consider candidates’ views on global warming when deciding how to vote, and that 88 percent support U.S. action to reduce global warming, even if it has economic costs. The authors of the poll presented their findings to the White House this spring, noting that it ran counter to conventional campaign wisdom.

Anthony Leiserowitz, coauthor of the Yale poll, said of Romney’s convention jab, “He was throwing red meat to the base. It may have been a laugh line, but those who aren’t part of his conservative base may have been shocked that he would mock this. He will be forced to pay for it in some fundamental way with moderates and independents.” (see poll results in post below)



12 Responses to “National Journal: Romney Jab Re-Ignited Climate Change Debate”

  1. Shane Burgel Says:

    It will be interesting to see if Mitt is ever forced to back pedal from this position even a little. If he does then it will show that the majority of the people take climate science seriously.

    To me it seems ridiculous that in the most important election in the world one of the leading candidates would openly mock climate science after one of the worst summers in recorded history. Try to think about that from the viewpoint of an unbiased outside observer. What could be more ludicrous? He has opened a can of worms that Obama can exploit big time.

    Not that I think that Obama has done enough mind you, I think that we are hosed either way. I still wish we had a third option that had a chance.

  2. rayduray Says:

    Today, Mitt Romney is going to take his circus to NW Iowa. To a Bible college. This is going to be interesting, because NW Iowa is the part of the state with the greatest number of wind turbines happily generating a lot of income for conservative farmers. It’s providing jobs for farmer’s sons.

    How Mitt Romney is going to mock the locals will be quite an interesting thing to see.

    Maybe next up will be for Romney to visit Freeport, IL to make a pitch to the Sensata employees about how he’s going to be creating good American jobs:

  3. I am perpetually stunned by the misplaced mockery of science but am busy googling “How to Prepare Crow” dishes. Maybe Romney really will help the families struggling through drought and provide U-hauls to the families in coastal cities later this century?

  4. moraleconomist Says:

    From the IPCC Third Assessment Report on Climate Change 2001 1st footnote from page 5 Summary for Policy Makers 1…“Climate change in IPCC usage refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. This usage differs from that in the Framework Convention on Climate Change, where climate change refers to a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.” This should prove to every literate open-minded English speaking person in the world that CARBON DIOXIDE EMITTED FROM BURNING FOSSIL FUELS DOES NOT CAUSE GLOBAL WARMING. THE IPCC is the Scientific Temple of the Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory and even THEIR SCIENTISTS had to hide in plain sight this disclaimer that they COULD NOT FIND ANY SCIENTIFIC FACTUAL EVIDENCE THAT ANY HUMAN ACTIVITY HAD ANY EFFECT WHATSOEVER ON THE EARTH’S OVERALL CLIMATE. As long ago as 2001 they could not credibly use the phrase Global Warming and had to change their definition of Climate Change so they could still use it to mislead public opinion.

    • rayduray Says:

      Good grief. You appear to be a personification of this infamous quote: ” Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” (

      I’ve done post-graduate work in finance and economics. And all I can say is that economics is not a science. It is an ideology. And for the most part a very stupid, unethical and deluded one at that.

      Instead of poisoning this discussion with your ill-informed drivel, let me recommend to you the film “Inside Job”. If come away from viewing this film with any residual respect for the fraudulent propagandists posing as economists, then you are simply too demented to comment on anything in public.

  5. I’m an independent and I was going to vote for Romney.

    Until he said that at the RNC.

    Now I don’t know who I’m voting for.

    I know that Climate Change is a real serious threat. But I also know that without a good economy our technology can’t expand and we can’t face that thread.

    I don’t want a president like Obama who thinks we need to change right NOW because it simply isn’t possible. We don’t have the technology. We don’t have the businesses willing to take the risks.

    We have to have a good economy to be capable of real changes and developments that will reduce climate change.

    But if Romney can’t even admit that climate change is valid, and in fact MOCKS it… well I dunno if I can vote for a complete idiot. It makes me not trust that he can heal the economy, at all, if he is so stupid to still believe in hoax conspiracies with no valid facts, numbers, or any scientists behind them.

    I don’t trust either of these canidates. What a mess.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      you have not been paying attention. the rap on Obama is that he
      has been far too conservative in moving the renewable agenda.

  6. otter17 Says:

    The fact that Obama even has to mention the phrase “… because climate change is not a hoax” is a sad state of affairs for USA politics.

  7. andrewfez Says:

    ….and this fellow knows what’s up, and has a nice voting suggestion at 44:27, and notice the date on the video: several months before Romney’s energy plan became all the rage…

  8. […] 2012/09/07: PSinclair: National Journal: Romney Jab Re-Ignited Climate Change Debate […]

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