Sponsorship of tonight’s debate appears aimed at influencing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), who is leading a "crusade against coal." Crist has unveiled a plan to reduce his state’s carbon dioxide emissions by replacing coal plants with solar thermal power plants. He has also canceled plans to build new coal plants that were pushed by his predecessor, Jeb Bush.
This CNN debate isn’t the first sponsored by the coal industry. On Nov. 15, it also sponsored the Democratic debate in Las Vegas, NV, which featured a similar full-page ad in The New York Times. The move appeared to be an attempt to pressure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who has stood firmly against the construction of three proposed major coal-fired power plants in his home state.
FYI, Grist will have an interview with Crist up in the next few weeks.