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GOP Candidates Deny Importance of Action on Climate Change at CNN Debate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Seth Stein, (202) 454-4573 or seth_stein@lcv.org

September 16, 2015  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At the second GOP presidential primary debate, CNN moderator Jake Tapper asked the candidates about climate change. Recent polling by Republican pollster American Viewpoint found that Republican voters in the key primary states of South Carolina and New Hampshire support pro-environment policies and renewable energy, and majorities believe in climate change. In response, LCV Senior Vice President of Campaigns Daniel J. Weiss issued the following statement:

“We applaud CNN for asking the candidates about the looming climate crisis.  However, we are disappointed that the candidates perpetuated their ignorance of the importance of action on climate change amidst the worst California drought in 500 years. They also disregarded the overwhelming majority of Americans who support reductions in carbon pollution and investments in clean energy.”

Transcripts of the questions are included below.

TAPPER: Sen. Rubio, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schultz reminds us that when Reagan was president, he faced a similar situation to the one that we’re facing now. There were dire warnings from the mass consensus of the scientific community about the ozone layer shrinking. Schultz says Ronald Reagan urged skeptics in industry to come up with a plan. He said, do it as an insurance policy in case the scientists are right. The scientists were right. Reagan and his approach worked. Secretary Schultz asks, why not take out an insurance policy approach climate change the Reagan way?

RUBIO: Because we're not going to destroy our economy the way the left-wing government that we are under now wants to do. 

TAPPER: Citing George Schultz.

RUBIO: He may have lined up with our positions on this issue. Here is the bottom line. Every proposal they put forward will be proposals that make it harder to do business in America, that will make it harder to create jobs in America. single parents are already struggling across this country to provide for their families. Maybe a billionaire here in California can afford an increase in their utility rates, but a working family in Tampa, Florida, or anywhere across this country cannot afford it. So we're not going to destroy our economy. We're not going to make America a harder place to create jobs. In order to pursue policies that will do absolutely nothing, nothing to change our economy, to change our climate, our weather, because America is a lot of things, the greatest country in the world, absolutely. But America is not a planet. We are not even the largest carbon producer anymore, China is. They're drilling a hole and digging anywhere in the world that they can get a hold of. So the bottom line is, I am not in favor of any policies that make America a harder place for people to live, or to work, or to raise their families. 

TAPPER: Gov. Christie, you have that climate change is real, and that humans help contribute to it. Without getting into the issue of China versus the United States, which I understand you've talked about before, what do you make of skeptics of climate change such as Sen. Rubio?

CHRISTIE: I don't think Sen. Rubio is a skeptic of climate change. What Sen. Rubio said, I agree with. We don't need this massive government intervention to deal with the problem. Look what we have done in New Jersey. We have already reached our clean air goals for 2020. When I was governor, I pulled out of the regional cap and trade deal, the only state in the northeast that did that. We still reached our goals. Why? 53% of our electricity comes from nuclear. We use natural gas. We use solar power. We're the third-highest solar power using state. You know why? We made those economically feasible. I agree with Marco – we shouldn’t be destroying our economy to chase some wild left-wing idea that somehow us by ourselves is going to fix the climate. We can contribute to that, and be economically sound. We have proven we can do that in New Jersey. Nuclear needs to be back on the table and in a significant way in this country if we want to go after this problem. 

TAPPER: For the record, I was citing secretary of state George Schultz. Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State. i don't think anybody would call him left-wing. 

CHRISTIE: Everybody makes a mistake every once in a while, Jake. even George Schultz. If that's truly a representation of what he believes we should be doing, with all due respect to the former Secretary of State, I disagree with him. 

RUBIO: Jake, you mentioned -- call me a denier --

TAPPER: I called you a skeptic. 

RUBIO: A skeptic. You can measure the climate. You can measure it. That's not the issue we're discussing. Here is what I’m skeptical of. I’m skeptical of the decisions that the left wants us to make. Because I know the impact those are going to have and they're all going to be on our economy. They will not do a thing to lower the rise of the sea. They will not do a thing to cure the drought here in California. What they will do is make America a more expensive place to create jobs and today, with millions of people watching this broadcast that are struggling paycheck to paycheck that do not know how they're going to pay their bills at the end of this month, I’m not in favor of anything that is going to make it harder for tm to raise their family. 

TAPPER: I want to go to another question. 

WALKER: I’ll echo what Sen. Rubio just said. This is an issue, we're talking about my state, thousands of manufacturing jobs. Thousands of manufacturing jobs for a rule the Obama administration – the EPA – has said will have a marginal impact on climate change. So we're going to put thousands and thousands of jobs in my state, I think something like 30,000 in Ohio, and in other states across this country. We're going to put people – manufacturing jobs, the kind of jobs that are far greater than minimum wage, this administration is willing to put at risk for something that its own EPA says is …

TAPPER: Thank you, governor. I’m turning to another issue right now.

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