Even in the aftermath of the superstorm that devastated the East Coast this week, neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney discussed the pressing issue of climate change in a pair of CNN op-eds the presidential candidates wrote, making one of their final pleas to voters before next week’s election.
Republican Romney laid out his economic vision for the umpteenth time, which he argues will add jobs and speed up the economic recovery. He also stressed the need for North American energy independence (which we will achieve by 2020 under his leadership, he wrote), and said he will “roll back” the deep spending cuts to the military enacted by Obama.
Mitt Romney via CNN:
We will restore fiscal sanity to Washington by bringing an end to the federal spending and borrowing binge that in just four years has added more debt held by the public than almost all previous administrations combined. We will put America on track to a balanced budget by eliminating unnecessary programs, by sending programs back to states where they can be managed with less abuse and less cost, and by shrinking the bureaucracy of Washington.
Finally, we will champion small business, the great engine of job creation in our country, by reforming the tax code and updating and reshaping regulations that have suffocated economic growth.
Romney concluded his editorial by saying that he is “offering real change and a real choice.”
Obama, who campaigned as the candidate of “hope” and “change” in 2008, appears to have dropped the hope part for now, but is adamant that he is still the candidate who will provide “real change” in Washington. He outlined some of the accomplishments of his first four years in office—ending the war in Iraq, the auto industry recovery and the creation of 5 million jobs in the past two and a half years—while reiterating his vision for a second term.
Barack Obama via CNN:
Change is an America that turns the page on a decade of war to do some nation-building here at home. So long as I’m commander-in-chief, we’ll pursue our enemies with the strongest military in the world. But it’s time to use the savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay down our debt and rebuild America—our roads and bridges and schools.
Change is an America where we reduce our deficit by cutting spending where we can, and asking the wealthiest Americans to go back to the income tax rates they paid when Bill Clinton was president. I’ve worked with Republicans to cut a trillion dollars of spending, and I’ll do more. I’ll work with anyone of any party to move this country forward. But I won’t agree to eliminate health insurance for millions of poor, elderly, or disabled on Medicaid, or turn Medicare into a voucher just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut.
Overall, these two op-eds offer voters nothing new or different from the standard campaign rhetoric Americans have heard time and time again on the campaign trail and in the debates.
And neither candidate addressed an important issue that has been virtually ignored throughout the presidential race—climate science—even as it’s been brought to the forefront by the news media following Hurricane Sandy.
There are some, including Jonathan Foley, director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, and Michael Mann, a climate researcher at Pennsylvania State University, who believe the issue will continue to stay on the back burner because of the differences in attitude between the two major parties.
Many have noted the near-absence of a climate discussion in the 2012 presidential race. Foley said that’s not surprising because it’s a no-win proposition for both candidates. President Barack Obama already is seen having the support of most voters who are concerned about climate change, and the matter doesn’t seem to be a major concern for Mitt Romney’s supporters.
“When one political party has the official position that climate change is a hoax, when we’re politically divided as to whether we should even accept the science, it’s difficult to have a meaningful discussion,” Mann said.
Foley, for one, hopes that the Hurricane Sandy experience will at least spur a long-term discussion about climate change and other weather-related issues once the campaign is over.
“This is an opportunity to have a conversation about how vulnerable we are to natural disasters,” Foley said. “We need a good, balanced discussion, but with a sense of urgency.”
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.
Obama for America/Scout Tufankjian