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GOP presidential hopefuls dance around climate change

Republican presidential candidates steer away from anything suggesting government action on climate change, some – Pawlenty and Gingrich – reversing earlier positions. Romney says the problem is real, but offers no solutions. That alone has raised conservative ire.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate in Manchester, N.H., June 13. Gingrich used to be a strong supporter of efforts to control climate change, but now casts doubts on the seriousness of the problem. Romney acknowledges the problem, but offers few remedies.

Jim Cole/AP

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There was a time when Republicans were at the forefront of efforts to investigate – maybe even do something about – the impact of human activity on global climate.

John McCain was an early and persistent supporter of cap-and-trade efforts to reduce the greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide) associated with climate change. So was Newt Gingrich, who went on to make a YouTube video ad – with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, no less – where he said, “Our country must take action to address climate change.”

Now, Republican presidential hopefuls seem to be racing in the opposite direction – disavowing their past support for policy measures on climate – even any sense that there’s a problem to be addressed.

As Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty signed a state greenhouse gas law limiting emissions, led a regional climate partnership with Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and he supported cap-and-trade. Since then, he’s flip-flopped.


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