Republican candidates looking for their party’s nomination for President in 2012 might do well to find a way around the large and growing body of mainstream climate scientific evidence.

That’s the take-home message from an October 25 report by the online Politico site.

“Recent comments from top White House and congressional contenders suggest an awkward mix of outright hostility or, at best, ambivalence toward the widespread scientific consensus that humans are responsible for the warming planet,” the Politico piece reported.

“Fueled by tea party rage, anti-government sentiment, and hostility to anything attached to President Barack Obama, the 2012 G.O.P. primary field is expected to run to the right,” the report continued. “If the midterm elections are any guide, any support for climate legislation — no matter how tepid — will be a black mark in the eyes of Republican primary voters.”

Tea Party activists helped Republican candidates Joe Miller in Alaska and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware oust Republican primary candidates who supported some sort of legislative action to fight climate change, the report said. It reported also that South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham had come under G.O.P. fire for having worked with Senators John Kerry (D-Mass) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on the failed Senate effort to pass a cap-and-trade bill.

Elsewhere, Republican and Tea Party candidates have argued outright that mainstream climate science is a fraud:

  • Ron Johnson in Wisconsin has attributed warming to sunspots.
  • Ken Buck, a Colorado Senate candidate, praised Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, the senior Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, for calling global warming a hoax.
  • John Raese, the G.O.P. nominee for the Senate in West Virginia, has declared: “I don’t believe in that myth.”

Jeff Holmstead, head of the EPA air office under President George W. Bush, told Politico that more mainstream GOP candidates for President likely will try to avoid talk about the merits of climate science — opting instead to argue against the U.S. taking legislative steps to cut emissions domestically.

Mitt Romney, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, for example, will likely question why the United States should cut emissions while China, India, and other fast-developing nations fail to do the same, Holmstead said.

Topics: Policy & Politics