Why Climate Change Melted Away As A Campaign Issue

  • Scott Detrow

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President Obama and Governor Romney sit down for their third and final debate.

What happened to climate change?
Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates fielded at least one debate question about global warming from 1988 through 2008. And during that time span, both Republicans and Democrats acknowledged it as a serious issue. “The greenhouse effect is an important environmental issue,” then-Senator Dan Quayle said in 1988. “Global warming needs to be taken seriously, and I take it seriously,” then-Governor George W. Bush stated in 2000. “The world’s temperature is going up,” argued Vice President Al Gore — no surprise there – during the same debate. (Watch a compilation of debate climate change answers here.)
But this year, despite multiple exchanges on domestic energy, neither President Obama nor Governor Romney mentioned climate change during their three debates. The topic hasn’t come up on the campaign trail either, as the New York Times reports.

It’s not like either candidate has previously ignored the issue: then-Senator Obama famously told voters that his 2008 Democratic primary win would be the moment “when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” He supported a cap-and-trade bill that passed the House, but failed in the Senate. Romney pushed for regional carbon limits during his tenure as Massachusetts governor, though he ultimately backed away from the plan.
What happened to climate change as a political issue? PBS’ Frontline takes a look in a report called “Climate of Doubt.” You can watch the video below:

Watch Climate of Doubt on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

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