On Sunday, Hillary Clinton announced she’d run for president in 2016. Her intentions were hardly secret as key staff were already hired and a campaign headquarters was recently established in Brooklyn.
But that didn’t stop an avalanche of commentary on Twitter on whether her announcement was “late” and her new campaign logo. But the most important tweet, by her campaign chairman John Podesta*, was mostly ignored.
Podesta’s tweet was retweeted about 130 times in the first four hours but none of the retweets were by verified users, other than one ThinkProgress reporter — journalists at major media outlets typically have verified Twitter accounts. The tweet has also not been embedded in a news article by any major publication.
Helping working families succeed, building small businesses, tackling climate change & clean energy. Top of the agenda. #Hillary2016
— John Podesta (@johnpodesta) April 12, 2015
This would make Hillary’s campaign the first major presidential campaign ever to make combating climate change a central issue.
Al Gore, who would go onto win a Nobel Prize for his advocacy of climate change, did not make it a key issue of his campaign for president in 2000. The environment section of John Kerry’s 2004 website did not mention climate change. (The issue gets one paragraph in a 14-page white paper on the campaign’s environmental policies.)
In 2008, Clinton and Obama more readily acknowledged climate change as a serious issue, but is was hardly a central policy issue in a campaign dominated by the fallout from the Iraq war and the emerging economic collapse.
In 2012, with no primary opponent for Obama and an opposition party that mostly refused to acknowledge climate science “neither Obama nor Mitt Romney was asked about the issue in any of the presidential debates, and it has not featured prominently in any of the plans for their presidencies.” (Ultimately, Obama embraced aggressive action on climate change during his second term including important new rules for power plants and a landmark agreement with China.)
Meanwhile, nearly all Republican candidates won’t acknowledge the existence of climate change or — if they do — suggest nothing should be done about it.
The world faces disastrous consequences from climate change in the coming years and ultimately the global response will succeed or fail based on the actions of the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China.
Podesta’s tweet signals that Clinton plans to make action on climate change a central part of her campaign. If Clinton were to win in 2016 with a mandate to take action on climate, it could save the planet from catastrophic warming.
But what do you think of her new logo?
*Disclosure: John Podesta founded the Center For American Progress Action Fund, which is the parent organization of ThinkProgress.