Despite kicking off Tuesday’s debate with a lengthy discussion of energy policy, neither President Obama and Mitt Romney so much as mentioned climate change. Instead, they spent a lot of time on the future of coal and oil production in the country.
“Having an energy conversation without talking about climate is like talking about smoking and not talking about cancer,” said MSNBC’s Chris Hayes during the network’s post-debate coverage. “You can’t talk about it unless you talk about what the stakes are for the climate.”
Hayes seemed particularly dismayed by each candidates’ attempts to appear, in his words, as “the more pro-coal candidate.” Throughout the energy segment of the debate, Obama and Romney claimed they would do more than the other candidate to increase coal production. Romney vowed to “fight for oil, coal and natural gas,” while Obama touted “increases in coal production and coal employment” as an accomplishment of his first year in office.
The competition over who is more “pro-coal,” Hayes said, is really about “who is going to most hastily speed our headlong flight of disaster towards our climate future in which we have not higher gas prices, but higher temperatures.”
Following the debate, moderator Candy Crowley said that she had prepared a question on climate change, but ultimately left it on the cutting room floor due to time constraints. ”Climate change, I had that question,” she said. “All you climate change people. We just, you know, again, we knew that the economy was still the main thing.”