Hillary Clinton is finally campaigning on the climate, with Al Gore on her side
For her first fall campaign speech focused exclusively on climate change, Hillary Clinton traveled to Florida, the state most at risk from rising sea levels, and one of the world’s most swing states. tightest and most consequential of this presidential election.
She brought with her to Florida a man she knew could amplify her message on both counts: former Vice President Al Gore. But at times, she almost looked like she could overtake Gore, someone whose voice on climate change has echoed in politics for decades.
“Climate change is real, it’s urgent, and America can take the lead in the world to address it,” Clinton said. “We can develop new clean energy solutions. We can transform our economy. We can rally the world to reduce carbon pollution. And we can fulfill our moral obligation to protect this planet for our children and grandchildren.
And as if sensing political opportunity like the rising wind and waves, she expanded the fight beyond her contest with climate change infidel Donald Trump to take on others of her ilk.
His campaign took place a new ad earlier today that began with a montage of Trump’s statements dismissing climate change. Clinton urged the crowd to not only reject her view that the whole issue was a “hoax,” but to sue like-minded Florida politicians, including Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio.
“It has to be a matter of voting,” she said. “Select top-down people who take climate change seriously. We can’t keep sending climate deniers to states and Congress, and certainly not to the White House. »
Clinton and Gore both told the Miami-Dade College audience that they had just witnessed the evidence of the mounting crisis as their campus was closed for four and a half days when Hurricane Matthew hit the side. “Hurricane Matthew was likely more disruptive due to climate change, with the ocean currently at record high temperatures,” she said. Gore called the storm’s rapid intensification “highly unusual.”
With 24 hours left to register to vote in Florida — an extension had been ordered by a federal judge due to the storm — Clinton called for swift action in the election to thwart the rollback.
“This is one of the most important issues in this election,” Clinton said. “Our next president will step up our efforts to protect our planet and our health and to create good jobs that cannot be outsourced. Or failing that, we will be dragged backwards and our whole future will be in jeopardy.
In a reversal of the usual order for special guests bumping into a presidential candidate, Clinton took the podium first, to introduce Gore.
When his turn came, he poignantly recalled that they were reunited at the epicenter of the recount drama that ended in his narrow loss of the presidency to George W. Bush 16 years ago. . Gore said he stands with this year’s Democratic presidential candidate to deliver a two-way message.
“First, on the most pressing issue facing this country and the world, Hillary Clinton will make solving the climate crisis a top national priority,” Gore said. “His adversary, based on the ideas he presented, would drag us into climate catastrophe.
“Number two, your vote really, really, really matters a lot,” he continued, “You can consider me Exhibit A for this.”
Gore had to stop as the crowd shouted, “You’ve won!” You won!” Gore said years from now, he didn’t want the crowd to greet Clinton with a similar chant.
“All elections have consequences. Your vote has consequences,” he said. “And in this election, the future of Miami and the cities on the east coast and west coast of Florida is on the ballot. The entire state of Florida is on the ballot. The same goes for our future, our economy, our health and our national security.
“The common thread that ties it all together,” Gore said, “is what we decide to do about carbon pollution and the damage it causes to ecological systems and the Earth.”
In Florida, Clinton was ahead of Trump by 2.4 points, according to RealClearPolitics.com’s polling average over the past week. (All seven of them were conducted before Sunday’s debate and Friday’s revelations of a videotape showing Trump making lewd and sexually aggressive comments about women in 2005.)
Florida has 29 electoral votes, more than any other state currently considered a draw. Because Clinton has a number of paths to the 270 electoral votes needed for victory, it’s unclear how crucial Florida’s votes will be for her.
But Florida is essential for Trump, and it’s clear that Clinton – on her sixth trip there since the start of the campaign – sees Florida as crucial in an effort to secure a decisive victory, especially in the face of efforts of Trump to raise the specter that a rigged system could rob him of the election.
Climate change — and the stark contrast between the candidates — is seen as an issue that could work to Clinton’s advantage, especially with younger voters. It’s no coincidence that Clinton staged her rally by rolling out climate change as a corner issue on a campus or in Florida, where environmental issues in general carry more weight.
The University of South Florida’s Nielsen Sunshine State Survey shows that 13% of Floridians cited the environment as the state’s most important issue, ranking it higher than education, healthcare, crime or immigration. Only the economy and employment are cited more frequently. Respondents also expressed growing concern about climate change and the loss of natural land in the state.
Clinton has had no history as a climate hawk. But she’s been pushed to take a tougher stance over the past year, especially during her lengthy main fight with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
To remind him of how difficult it was for him to walk a straight green line the day before his climate speech, some of the thousands of his emails rpublished by WikiLeaks showed that his aides last year grappled with the public relations implications of changing stance to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.
Clinton and Gore offered no hint of disagreement when they appeared on stage together. But Gore has expressed skepticism about fracking and said he opposes the use of natural gas as a “bridge” fuel to a renewable future. Just two nights ago, during the second presidential debate, Clinton said she believed natural gas was necessary for the transition to cleaner energy. But Clinton drew cheers from the crowd when she said she looked forward to having Gore as an adviser when she becomes president.
Clinton’s stance on climate, moderate as it is, contrasts sharply with that of Trump and his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Pence was campaigning in North Carolina on Tuesday as the state grappled with devastating flooding caused by huge storm surge and torrential rain from Hurricane Matthew, which killed 11 people in the state.
Even though Florida was spared the worst of Matthew, nine people were killed there, thousands were left without power, and damage from the storm surge was still being calculated. Between Saint-Augustin and Palm Coast, a small new inlet was carved out by the mighty water pounding the coast, visible by satellite. Another concern: Scientists have warned that standing water left behind could serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus, and could accelerate its spread beyond South Florida.
Miami is getting far more frequent reminders that it’s in the bull’s eye of climate change impacts, including flooding on sunny days and ocean water boiling through its sewer system, like Gore and Clinton both pointed this out.
“At high tide you have ocean fish swimming through the streets of Miami Beach and Del Ray,” Gore said. In addition to Florida’s woes, Gore noted other anomalies, such as California’s drought and record flooding this year in Louisiana, Texas, West Virginia and Maryland.
“It’s not normal,” he said. “This is becoming the new normal. It is a set of conditions that we have created with pollution from man-made global warming.