Kerry Delicately Attempts to Go Green and Sway Undecideds

The environment rarely ranks high on lists of voters’ concerns, but in a close election, any advantage can be decisive. Thus Kerry’s delicate footwork on green issues. To court the eco-friendly Dem base, he has promised to push for 20 percent of U.S. electricity to come from renewables by 2020 and to cut the government’s own energy use by 20 percent in a decade. But, lest he spook crucial swing voters in manufacturing states like Michigan and Ohio, Kerry is pitching his energy scheme as a job-creation program, tying energy independence to heartland-friendly national-security issues and promising to give “clean coal” — which many enviros call an oxymoron — a central role in the nation’s energy future. If he’s politically adept, Kerry may even be able to snag a few traditionally Republican votes, as many conservationists on the right are furious with Bush. His challenge is captured by dedicated Republican and hunter Lamar Marshall, who says, “I don’t know what to do about this election. I can’t vote for Bush. [Kerry] would be better for the environment, but he’s scary.”