We got so caught up in our excitement over John Kerry’s comments on climate and clean energy last week that we completely missed Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) take on the topic.
According to Politico, here’s how Rubio responded after Kerry argued at his confirmation hearing that clean energy is a $6 trillion market.
That’s too much effort to put on climate change, according to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a leading early contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
“I don’t think it’s the most pressing foreign policy issue facing America,” Rubio told POLITICO outside Kerry’s confirmation hearing on Thursday. “There’s a lot of things government can do but changing the weather isn’t one of them.”
Rubio is a guy who took a quarter of a million dollars from fossil fuel interests for his campaign. A guy who called for more offshore drilling as he lamented the Gulf oil spill. A guy who shortly after Election Day declared that the age of the Earth is “a dispute amongst theologians” and said he couldn’t weigh in because “I’m not a scientist, man.”
Rubio wants to run for president. He is savvy enough to spearhead immigration reform after looking at 2012 demographics, but still toes a hard-right line on energy and climate, as he has since at least 2010.
To that end, his statement last week on climate change is cleverly crafted. He rolls two conservative tropes — anti-climate and anti-government — into one sweeping pronouncement. Government can’t fix things, including the weather. Two kisses on the cheeks of Republican primary voters in Iowa.
His statement is also deeply ironic. Government isn’t trying to change the weather. Government is hoping to intervene, to make the already-changing climate — and its ancillary weather manifestations — as non-damaging as possible. Rubio and his fossil fuel backers are the advocates for changing the weather, through passivity.
Rubio is betting that four years from now voters will be as dispassionate about addressing climate change as they are today. The odds that bet pays off will probably only decline. And Rubio’s embrace of immigration reform should be instructive: Even as recently as the 2012 GOP primaries, candidates were betting that an anti-immigration platform would be a winner. It wasn’t. Things changed. And if attitudes on the climate shift as rapidly, Rubio will lose his bet big.