Thompson On Whether Global Warming Is A Threat: ‘I’m Not Going To Answer’

In today’s GOP presidential debate in Iowa, Fred Thompson refused to answer whether or not global climate change is a “serious threat and caused by human activity.” When the moderator asked to see a show of hands from the candidates, Thompson became combative and declared, “I’m not doing hand shows today.” At least four other candidates raised their hands.

When the moderator refused to give him a full minute to answer the question, he replied, “Well, I’m not going to answer it.” While McCain and several other candidates followed up and outlined their energy plans, Thompson stayed silent. Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/12/thompsonhanddl.320.240.flv]

Thompson is clearly not very concerned about global warming. Yesterday on Glenn Beck’s radio show, Thompson said that while the “Earth is warming,” we “don’t know whether or not it’s a part of a cycle. We’ve had cooling stages before. We don’t know to what extent it’s due to manmade causes.”

Similarly, in a CBS News interview last night, he claimed that the “state of entitlements” and “extremists” who “want to do drastic things to our economy” are greater threats than global warming:

There are a lot of unanswered questions. We don’t know to the extent this is a cyclical thing. This may or may not effect very much. The extremists are the ones who want to do drastic things to our economy before we have more answers as to how much good we can do and whether people in the other parts of the world are going to contribute. It’s the fact that our entitlements are bankrupting the next generation. We’re spending the money of those yet to be born and we can’t continue that way.

Romney was the only candidate to applaud today when Thompson protested the “hand shows.”

UPDATE: Frank Luntz’s Fox News focus group of Republicans unanimously loved Thompson’s theatrical stand on global warming:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/12/luntzgroup.320.240.flv]

UPDATE II: At a post-debate campaign stop, Thompson said that he refused to raise his hand for global warming because format was “monkey business.”

Transcript:

MODERATOR: Thank you. I’d like to take on a new issue. I’d like to see a show of hands. How many of you believe global climate change is a serious threat caused by human activity?

THOMPSON: I’m not doing hand shows today.

MODERATOR: No hand shows?

THOMPSON: No hand shows.

MODERATOR: And so, is that yes or no for you? Do you believe that global climate change is a serious threat and caused by human activity?

THOMPSON: Well, do you want to give me a minute to answer that?

MODERATOR: No, I don’t.

THOMPSON: Well, I’m not going to answer it.

MODERATOR: Ok.

ROMNEY: How about 30 seconds?

MODERATOR: No —

THOMPSON: You want a show of hands. I’m not giving it to you.

MODERATOR: We’ll follow up on that, but what I need to know is, who believes that global climate change is serious and caused by human activity, and then we’ll talk in more detail about it.

(CROSSTALK)