Following the Lead of Other Candidates, Biden Becomes 15th to Call for Climate Debate

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 11 Jun 2019 21:50:00 GMT

Today, Joe Biden became the 15th Democratic candidate for president to call for a climate debate, making a mockery of Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez’s claim such a debate would be “at the request of one candidate.”

Perez was evidently singling out Jay Inslee, who has made climate action a centerpiece of his campaign.

In fact, the demand for a presidential debate focused on climate began with the youth climate activist groups U.S. Youth Climate Strike and Sunrise Movement. Inslee was the first candidate to support their campaign, though over a dozen fellow candidates soon followed suit.

Biden joined the calls for a climate debate in a conversation with a climate activist following a rally today in Ottumwa, Iowa, Greenpeace reports.

Biden is the ninth of the 13 candidates who have fully qualified for the DNC debates to endorse a climate debate.

In a Medium post, Perez—handpicked as chair by Barack Obama to thwart the candidacy of Keith Ellison—pushed back on the growing calls for a climate debate.

“If we change our guidelines at the request of one candidate who has made climate change their campaign’s signature issue, how do we say no to the numerous other requests we’ve had?”

Perez has not indicated specifically what other existential issue a majority of the Democratic candidates for president, spurred by activists, have requested to debate.

Transcript of Biden exchange:

Q: “Should we have a climate change debate?”

BIDEN: “Yeah we should have a climate change debate. We should. That’s what we should be doing.”

Q: “One debate?”

BIDEN: “Yeah.”

Q: “Dedicated to climate change?”

BIDEN: “Yeah, I’m all in. I’m all in, man. Take a look at what I’m talking about. By the way, first climate change plan ever introduced in the United States Congress: Biden.”

Q: “You’re the man. All right.”

Spurred by Youth Climate Activists, Over A Dozen Democratic Candidates Call for Climate Debate - Nixed By DNC

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 10 Jun 2019 12:40:00 GMT

Spurred by teen-aged climate activists, a majority of the Democratic candidates for president have called on the Democratic National Committee to hold a debate focused on climate change.

This week, DNC chair Tom Perez announced no such debate would happen, tweeting that the DNC “will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area – we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on all the issues.”

The U.S. Youth Climate Strike, led by a group of teenagers inspired by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, has been bird-dogging candidates since April 2019. With the support of MoveOn, the group launched an online petition to the DNC that now has nearly 55,000 signatures. A broad coalition of environmentalist and progressive groups followed suit with a joint petition that now has over 191,000 signatures. A DailyKos petition has an additional 17,000 signatures and counting.

Below is a sourced listing of the 14 Democratic candidates for president who have announced their support for a climate debate and when they did so. Not only is that a majority of the 23 major candidates running for president, the list includes eight of the 14 candidates who have passed the DNC threshold to qualify for their debates (bold below).

Most of the announcements were in response to an in-person request from a U.S. Youth Climate Strike activist, though some were in response to reporter questions.

In their announcement of support for a climate debate, Gabbard and Moulton campaigns called for another debate to focus on national security.

Unlike the 2012 and 2016 elections, most of the Democratic candidates have climate change a central theme of their campaigns, outlining competing visions for transforming the United States toward sustainability and climate justice.

Strangely, DNC spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa argued the DNC couldn’t host a climate debate because it would favor Jay Inslee, who has made climate the central theme of his presidential campaign. “Once we start allowing one candidate to dictate what the debate is about, we have to say ‘yes’ to all of them on their core issue,” Hinojosa told HuffPost. “Otherwise people would say we are benefiting one candidate. And if we were to have issue-area debates, how do you pick 12 issue areas?”

On Sunday, Perez gave an even more incoherent excuse for refusing to hold a climate debate, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Perez told activists at an event in Orlando: “It’s just not practical. And as someone who worked for Barack Obama, the most remarkable thing about him was his tenacity to multitask, and a president must be able to multitask.”

Perez seems to be confused about the cross-cutting implications of climate change despite his role as the head of the Democratic Party. The 2016 Democratic platform claimed that “Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures, and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century,” and that “Democrats recognize the catastrophic consequences facing our country, our planet, and civilization.”

Update 6/13 Updated to reflect that Kirsten Gillibrand had passed both criteria (polling and contributors) for the debates on Monday.