Tom Brokaw: Why Haven’t Presidential Debates Discussed Climate Change?

by Miles Grant, via National Wildlife Federation

On Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw listed climate change among the topics that neither the first presidential debate nor the vice presidential debate delved into.

There has been no discussion of global warming,” said Brokaw. “I think the American public, as I talk to them, want detailed answers and they want candor and they say, hey, look, don’t try to smoke me this time.

Unfortunately, moderator David Gregory immediately steered the panel discussion back to the format of the next debate — a topic of great interest to Washington insiders, but not exactly a critical issue on Main Street.


So far, the debates have ducked conservation. That’s even though poll after poll shows deep concern about climate change:

  • Two-thirds (67%) of Americans, including 65% of independents, see solid evidence of global warming, up 10% in the last 3 years. That’s according to a new Pew Research Center poll.
  • Government action to regulate the release of greenhouse gases from sources like power plants, cars and factories in an effort to reduce global warming is supported by 74% of Americans, according to an August poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
  • Among sportsmen, a conservative-leaning group, two in three (66%) believe we have a moral responsibility to confront global warming to protect our children’s future. Additionally, 69% agree the U.S. should reduce its carbon emissions that contribute to global warming and threaten fish and wildlife habitat.

Tonight’s town hall debate may open up new topics, thanks in part to the over 3,000 questions submitted by Google users. However, the early agenda for the final debate doesn’t look good for talk of global climate change. Moderator Bob Schieffer is defining “foreign policy” to focus heavily on terrorism and the Middle East. His released list of topics doesn’t even mention energy policy or climate change, even though the Pentagon calls global warming a national security threat.

If President Obama and Mitt Romney think climate change is worth debating, they don’t have to sit back and wait to be asked. Take action right now and urge President Obama and Governor Romney to tell us their plans to confront climate change.

Miles Grant is the National Wildlife Federation’s online communications manager, working to connect the policy and politics up on Capitol Hill to the changes global warming is bringing to your backyard. This piece was originally published at NWF’s Wildlife Promise blog and was reprinted with permission.