81 Percent Of South Carolina GOP Voters Want To Tackle Climate Change — Will Candidates Listen?

Conservative presidential candidates have expressed varying degrees of commitment to fighting global warming. Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee are unsure of whether the issue is “overblown.” Mitt Romney has echoed the Bush administration’s line, and Rudy Giuliani wants to rely more heavily on coal reserves.

In ten days, South Carolina will hold its pivotal Republican primary. With thousands of miles of shoreline and an agriculture and tourist-based economy, climate change will have a strong impact on the state.

The issue is particularly relevant to conservative candidates, as the vast majority of GOP voters in South Carolina crave strong leadership from presidential candidates on the issue:

According to a January 2007 poll conducted for the group Environmental Defense, 81 percent of South Carolina’s Republican voters believe the United States should reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

South Carolina’s Republican Governor Mark Sanford has commissioned a committee to create a climate action plan for the state. During the last legislative session, 90 House and 24 Senate members — split evenly between Republicans and Democrats — signed an open letter calling for presidential leadership on climate change.

Furthermore, in November, 108 of South Carolina’s mayors “signed a separate letter also calling on presidential candidates to speak out on climate change.

Tonight, the candidates will be in the state for Fox News’ “First-In-The-South” Republican debate, hosted by Chris Wallace and Brit Hume. The League of Conservation Voters has launched a campaign urging networks to discuss the issue with the candidates. Watch the video:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’s leadership on climate change “gave him huge appeal to the Independents that he needed to pull-off a win” in New Hampshire. Will the other candidates listen to the South Carolina GOP and promise to combat global warming?

And will Wallace — who asked only two global warming-related questions in 2007 — ask the candidates about climate change tonight?