October 30, 2020


Some Republicans See Missed Opportunity To Campaign On Climate Change In N.H. (ANNIE ROPEIK, 10/30/20, NHPR)

It sounds like a classically Republican idea - pro-business, pro-competition - but it goes against President Trump's approach to this issue. Some think this divide has made it hard for conservative candidates tied to Trump to stake out their own ground on climate policy. 

"He doesn't give Republicans a safe place to go on this issue or many issues," said Tom Rath, a longtime Republican political strategist in New Hampshire.

Rath thinks climate change "defies characterization" as liberal or conservative, and should be a bipartisan priority.

"It is a core issue that goes to the quality of life in this country and around the world, and we can't be blind to it," he said.

Rath has endorsed Joe Biden, and he thinks Republicans have missed an opportunity to work around Trump on this topic in New Hampshire.

Mowers and Messner are both relative newcomers to the state. They've talked in broad strokes about climate change, but Rath said neither has rooted it in local economic concerns. 

"If they don't have a sense of the ethos of the state and what matters, they would tend to view that as some kind of a textbook issue and not understand: it's how the leaves turn on Kancamagus [Highway] that matters," Rath said. "It's the quality of our water, whether we can fish in the Ammonoosuc [River]... whether we get enough snow in the White Mountains. All these things are material to the way we live, and you cannot credibly be a candidate if you don't get that."

Recent polls, from the Pew Research Center and Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, show that increasing majorities of Republican voters in New Hampshire and nationwide believe in climate change and support some policies to fix it.

One of those New Hampshire Republicans is Lyman Cousens, a retired businessman from Boscawen. 

"Yes, I believe in the science. I think it's obvious, with the storms and the fires," he said. "I think most people are intelligent enough to see what the problem is." 

Cousens supports fundamental climate responses like renewable energy development. He calls himself a Reagan Republican. He's fed up with the polarized politics of 2020, and he thinks Trump has only made it worse, on everything from coronavirus to climate action. 

Cousens has already voted for Joe Biden for president. He said Biden's climate plan might be overly ambitious, but:

"Biden is at least going to make an attempt," Cousens said. "And Trump will not make an attempt to cure the climate change problem." 

It doesn't matter whether or how much humans are contributing; it's just good economics and morality.

Posted by at October 30, 2020 7:50 AM