Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, said climate change is not a problem when he was interviewed on national television Thursday, the morning after he participated in the second GOP presidential campaign debate.
Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Trump declared: “I consider climate change to be not one of our big problems. I consider it to be not a big problem at all. I think it’s the weather, I think it’s weather changes. It could be some man-made something, but you know, if you look at China, they’re doing nothing about it. Other countries, they’re doing nothing about it. It’s a big planet.”
Only after three hours of tedious braggadocio and avoidance of any issues important to working people last night did the GOP candidates very reluctantly answer a few questions on climate change. Those questions came into CNN from people using social media.
Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, who has repeatedly denied that human activity causes climate change, declared, “We’re not going to destroy our economy the way the left-wing government we’re under wants us to do.”
Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, after saying that humans have nothing to do with climate change and bragging that his state’s approach is to drastically step up the use of nuclear power said, “We shouldn’t be destroying our economy in order to chase some wild left-wing idea that somehow us, by ourselves, are going to fix the climate.”
Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Minnesota said that current policies to address climate change will kill manufacturing jobs.
Carly Fiorina drew applause when she took on Trump over disparaging remarks he had made about her appearance but the exchange between them quickly degenerated into a contest over who had made more personal wealth faster than whom. (Fiorina ran Hewlett-Packard into the ground but not before she destroyed 30,000 jobs and lined her pockets with a golden parachute worth $40 million while Trump bankrupted four casinos in Atlantic City but not before destroying thousands of jobs and lining his pockets with millions of dollars taken from people who had invested in his failing ventures.)
The philosophy that accumulation of personal wealth is the main indicator of success in life seemed to permeate the entire Republican field. While not a single candidate mentioned the wealth gap or the need to raise wages or income after more than 30 years of stagnation they all backed the idea that government should get out of the way of billionaires seeking to pile up additional wealth.
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who said last night that President Obama was a socialist who backed wealth redistribution, is the same governor that took one billion dollars from Wisconsin education and transferred it into the pockets of billionaires building a sports stadium in Milwaukee. One of those billionaires, John Hammes, is in charge of Walker’s campaign finance operation.
Trump repeated his absurd call for the deportation of 11 million immigrants and the construction of a wall to “keep out criminals coming in from Mexico” with none of the other candidates, including Jeb Bush, challenging him on this.
At times the discussion was almost surreal with Trump trumpeting, for example, various conspiracy theories about how childhood vaccinations cause autism. He described an employee who “went to have the vaccination and came back with what was a beautiful baby going in that now got a high fever, got very sick, and is now autistic.”
Fiorina, so willing to challenge Trump on his ability to efficiently pile up millions of dollars, had nothing to say about Trump playing doctor or medical expert. All she could say about vaccination was that they “should be up to the parents.”
The only flickers of anything approaching reality or common sense came from Rand Paul and John Kasich. Paul criticized the war on drugs and the criminal justice system and policies of mass incarceration. He said, at one point, that people of privilege, like Jeb Bush, could afford to admit having smoked pot but that it is the poor, especially African Americans living in inner city’s who end up in jail. He also condemned the placement of U.S. troops in Iraq and military intervention, generally.
Paul and Kasich both said that it didn’t make sense that all the other GOP candidates were pledging to tear up the Iran nuclear agreement on day one. “Wouldn’t you want to see if it works first?” Paul asked.
Photo: Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. | Andrew Harnik/AP