PoliGraph: Pawlenty climate claim right, with caveats

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Once upon a time, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty supported a cap-and-trade plan to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Cap-and-trade sets an overall limit on pollution and lets businesses bid for the right to continue emissions.

Now, Pawlenty says his support for cap-and-trade was “a mistake.” But he’s also pointed out that he’s not the only potential Republican candidate who has a mixed record on the issue.

“Everybody in the race – at least the big names in the race – embraced climate change or cap-and-trade at one point or another,” he said on the March 28, 2011, episode of the Laura Ingraham radio show. “Every one of us.”

Not every GOP hopeful has tried to tackle climate change, but many of them did.

The Evidence

Pawlenty’s spokesman did not respond to questions about who the “big names in the race” are, but it’s clear that a number of Republicans who are frequently mentioned as potential candidates have changed their position on climate change.

• Sarah Palin: As governor of Alaska, Palin formed a subcabinet to tackle climate change, and she became involved in the Western Climate Initiative, a group with the goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions. She also supported capping emissions as Sen. John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 presidential election. But just months after McCain lost, she wrote in an op-ed that President Barack Obama’s cap-and-trade plan was a “threat to our economy.”

• Newt Gingrich: In 2007, the former House Speaker said that “mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system” is something he would “strongly support,” and in 2008, he made an ad with Rep. Nancy Pelosi saying that the country, “must take action to address climate change.” Since then, Gingrich has blasted legislation to cap emissions.

• Mitt Romney: As Massachusetts governor, Romney first supported a regional plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions, but ultimately backed-off because he feared it would be too expensive for consumers. More recently, he’s said that cap-and-trade would have a “devastating impact” on the economy.

• Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor has also sent mixed messages about his stance on climate change.

Still, there are three potential candidates in the field who have not changed their position on climate change.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has been a leading GOP advocate for climate action, setting a goal to bring Utah’s emissions down to 2005 levels by 2020. So far, it appears he’s not wavered on the issue.

Meanwhile, it appears former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who once lobbied for energy companies, and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann have never flirted with the idea of supporting cap-and-trade.

The Verdict

Minus Barbour and Bachmann, Pawlenty is right that most potential GOP candidates have “embraced climate change or cap-and-trade at one point or another.”

Pawlenty isn’t precise on this one, and it’s also tough to say just who is and who isn’t a big name in the race right now. He’s close enough that his claim passes the PoliGraph test.


YouTube, The Laura Ingraham Show, March 28, 2011

Minnesota Public Radio, Pawlenty, Doyle and other Midwest governors sign on to global warming pact, by Stephanie Hemphill, Nov. 15, 2011

Minnesota Public Radio, Pawlenty’s current climate change stance differs from past , by Tom Scheck, Sept. 23, 2009

PolitiFact.com, Palin flips on her support of cap-and-trade, by Catharine Richert, July 20, 2009

The Washington Post, The ‘Cap And Tax’ Dead End , by Gov. Sarah Palin, July 14, 2009

Time.com, On Global Warming, No Clear Skies For Most 2012 GOP Contenders, by Michael Scherer, March 24, 2011

YouTube, Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich Commercial on Climate Change, accessed March 31, 2011

Frontline, Interview with Newt Gingrich, February 15, 2007

Atlanta Journal Constitution, Newt Gingrich: Cap-and-trade is ‘an energy tax’ and a job-killer, by Jim Galloway, April 24, 2009

ABC News, Gingrich Rips Obama Budget’s ‘Energy Tax’; OMB Says Higher Costs Offset by Tax Credit, by Teddy Davis, February 27, 2009

YouTube, Mitt Romney on Cap and Trade, October 7, 2009

Grist, Is Jon Huntsman the greenest GOP presidential hopeful?, by Lisa Hymas, February 2, 2011

The Associated Press, The 2008 Democratic and Republican presidential candidates’ positions on the issues, by Calvin Woodward, Dec. 18, 2007

The Boston Herald, Romney OK with plan on emissions, July 24, 2003

The Star Tribune, Michele Bachmann: ‘Cap and trade’? More like ‘tax and spend’, by Rep. Michele Bachmann, June 9, 2008


The Humphrey School

  • Ralph Crammedin

    The Republicans certainly are racing to the bottom, aren’t they? Reminded of his once responsible position on (pick an issue), Pawlenty’s consistent response amounts to “the other candidates were once intelligent, too, before we all got so dimwitted.” When, exactly, did stupidity become the Prime Republican Virtue?