After ignoring the issue of global warming since he began his 2012 run for the White House, Republican nominee Mitt Romney is now invoking it to illustrate a key difference issue between him and President Obama.
“President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise ... is to help you and your family,” Romney will say in his acceptance speech tonight at the Republican National Convention, according to prepared remarks released by the campaign.
Romney’s choice of words is telling. He is bringing up the politically incendiary issue of climate change in a way that seeks to avoid the thorny debate over whether or not humans’ use of fossil fuels is causing the Earth to get warmer and also simultaneously underscoring his commitment to improving the economy.
He is portraying the debate as an either-or choice: You can have either a healthy planet or a healthy, economically thriving family.
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney enacted policies that pledged to address climate change, but he has abandoned mentioning those policies as a presidential candidate seeking to appeal to conservative, tea party voters who question the overwhelming amount of science underpinning human-caused climate change.
One of Obama’s most ambitious promises of the 2008 campaign was to combat climate change and enact legislation controlling carbon emissions. Now, as he campaigns for reelection, he has distanced himself from those mostly unfulfilled promises.
Polling shows that global warming ranks near the bottom of voters’ concerns, far behind economic concerns. Environmentalists are already criticizing Romney on Twitter for the reference, but he had little hope of getting the support of that community anyway.