Republican Presidential Wannabes: December 2015 Update

Back in May and September of this year, WC posted a then-complete list of the 18 or so candidates for the Republican nomination for president. It’s time to update that list. And, as an added service to readers, state the candidate’s public position on the largest issue of our time, anthropogenic climate change. Have you taken your Drmamamine? Okay, let’s get started.1

In alphabetical order. Changes are in red. Names of withdrawn candidate in strike-through face. These . . . persons’ positions on climate change are in the new third column. Don’t blame WC that this is a long post.

Jeb Bush Presently “actively explor[ing] the possibility of running for president of the United States.” Two-term Florida governor, has the benefits and liabilities of being a Bush. Possibly too liberal insufficiently conservative for the GOP primary process. Badly muffed first challenge to his brother’s record. Struggling to draw attention away from the Donald. Indifferent success. “The climate is changing,” but, he added, “I don’t think the science is clear on what percentage is man-made and…what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted. And for the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant.” Anti-science, climate change denier.
Ben Carson Retired neurosurgeon, the only African American Republican candidate. Has never run for office, but readily serves political red meat. On race relations, “I actually believe that things were better before this president was elected,” he said Nov. 25, 2014. Describes the ACA is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” Hard to take this one seriously. Surprising success but candidacy probably doomed. “I’ll tell you what I think about climate change. The temperature’s either going up or down at any point in time, so it really is not a big deal.” Anti-science, climate change denier.
Chris Christie Second term governor of New Jersey. And one vindictive son of a bitch. Bridge-gate scandal just won’t go away; recent indictments will test staff and former staff loyalty. Suffered more self-inflicted injuries when he cuddled up to the Great Satan, President Obama, following superstorm Sandy. Presents as a charismatic, blunt-talking governor; acts like a fat bully. May be too moderate for GOP primary process. Currently polling in the low single digits. “I think global warming is real. I don’t think that’s deniable. And I do think human activity contributes to it. The degree to which it contributes to it is what we need to have a discussion about.” Anti-science, climate change denier.
Ted Cruz Junior senator from Texas, elected in 2012, top tea party politician. Wants to rewrite the tax code, abolish the IRS, and repeal the Affordable Care Act. In September 2013, he filibustered the Senate for 1 hours in support of defunding the ACA. Was also a leading cause of the 16-day government shutdown a month later. Dual citizenship of U.S. and Canada. Ivy League type who pretends otherwise. Trying to close down the federal government over Planned Parenthood, feeding his Teabaggger constituents while alienating a large majority of voters. “If you look to the satellite data in the last 18 years there has been zero recorded warming. Now the global warming alarmists, that’s a problem for their theories. Their computer models show massive warming the satellite says it ain’t happening. We’ve discovered that NOAA, the federal government agencies are cooking the books.” Subscribes to the Lamar Smith science conspiracy school. Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University, wrote of Cruz’s statements. “That sort of ignorance would be dangerous in a doorman, let alone a president.”
Carly Fiorina Primary credential is gender. Failed and fired CEO of Hewlett Packard. Failed candidate for Senate from California. Advisor to John McCain’s failed presidential campaign. Currently buffing conservative credentials by serving on the board of directors of the American Conservative Union Foundation. Possibly posturing for vice-president. Thinks it is significant that she defeated The Donald in the second debate.  “There’s a lot of consensus among scientists that climate change is real,” Fiorina said at an event in New Hampshire earlier this year. But she also disputes that the U.S. can do anything about it. Every one of the scientists that tell us that climate change is real and being caused by man-made activity also tells us that a single nation acting alone can make no difference at all.” Doesn’t inspire any confidence in her accounting skills, does it?
Lindsay Graham Multi-term South Carolina senator and super-hawk who wants U.S. to invade Iran. A close ally of John McCain, the GOP’s failed 2008 presidential nominee, who has long been talking up “Graham 2016.” South Carolina holds the first Southern primary; Graham may see his home state as the launch point for a successful run. Meanwhile, he has announced if he is President anyone thinking of thinking about joining Al Qaeda or ISIL he’s “not gonna call the judge, [he’s] gonna call the drone. And we will kill you. Four months later: Lindsay who? “When it comes to climate change being real, people of my party are all over the board. There was several resolutions,” Graham said after a recent Council on Foreign Relations event. “I said that it’s real, that man has contributed to it in a substantial way.” Okay, that’s a bit more honest than most Republicans, but what’s the plan?
Mike Huckabee Former governor of Arkansas, Southern Baptist minister and Fox News talk-show host. Another candidate aimed at the evangelical right of the GOP. Washed out in the 2012 campaign when couldn’t raise money from his narrow base. Has “readied himself for the current run by attending a series of ‘Pastors and Pew’ events run by David Lane, an Evangelical leader who urges his followers to take a more active role in the political process,” per Christian Science Monitor reporter Peter Grier. Poster child for the right wing Christianists. Deeply confused about the U.S. Constitution. Announced President Obama only “pretends” to be a Christian. “Whether it’s man-made or not, I know that when I was in college I was being taught that if we didn’t act very quickly, that we were going to entering a global freezing. And, you know, go back and look at the covers of Time and Newsweek from the early ’70s. And we were told that if we didn’t do something by 1980, we’d be popsicles. Now we’re told that we’re all burning up. Science is not as settled on that as it is on some things.” Another anti-science, climate change denier.
Bobby Jindal The one who sounds like Mr. Rogers. Second term governor of Louisiana. Since Louisiana has an ongoing budget crisis, running to $1.6 billion, and low job approval among his constituents, he’s not gong to run on his home record. Has a gift for putting his foot in his mouth: a son of Indian immigrants, he claimed London, England has Muslim “no-go” zones. Four months later: still sounds like Mr. Rogers. Polls in single digits. Announced plan to “fire all 535 members of Congress.” Bobby who? “I’m sure human activity is having an impact on the climate,” Jindal told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in September 2014. “But I would leave it to the scientists to decide how much, what that means, what are the consequences.” The old “I’m not a scientist” argument, Republican code for “I don’t want to offend the Koch Brothers.”
John Kasich Who? Two-term governor of Ohio and 18-year member of U.S. House. Primary credential is that he might carry Ohio, a bellwether state. Moderate for a 21st Century Republican; expanded Medicaid in Ohio. Was a 2000 candidate for President; faced name recognition problems. Nothing has changed. Would actually be a plausible candidate if the primary process was sensible. John who? Reportedly running out of campaign funds. Flip-flops. “I happen to believe there is a problem with climate change. I don’t want to overreact to it, I can’t measure it all, but I respect the creation that the Lord has given us and I want to make sure we protect it.” And, “We don’t want to destroy people’s jobs based on some theory that’s not proven.” Still, most of Ohio’s electricity – about two thirds – is generated by coal-burning power plants. ‘Nuff said.
Peter King Who? 12-term house member from New York. A House member is the ultimate long shot for the presidency. Platform is to fight Rand Paul’s isolationism. “We have to go back to being the party of national defense,” he said Aug. 5, 2013, at a backyard barbecue in New Hampshire. Even for a House member, a real long shot. Never officially declared after everyone ignored flag and flagpole.
George Pataki Who? Three term New York governor, out of politics since 2006. Career politician running as a Washington outsider. Meh. Never officially declared after everyone ignored flag and flagpole. Since the 1990s, George Pataki has claimed to believe that climate change is scientifically proven. Unlike most of his GOP opponents, he has supported reductions in greenhouse gases since 1998. He even co-chaired an independent commission on climate change that released a report recommending a market-friendly cap-and-trade system that aimed to cut emissions by 60-80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. He has not, however, expressed a position on climate change since he announced his presidential candidacy, and there appears not to be any mention of climate change on his campaign website. Wants it both ways.
Rand Paul Isolationist junior senator from Kentucky, inherited his father, Ron Paul’s political franchise. Leading voice for libertarianism within the GOP. A headline-grabber, filibustering against drones and floating a SCOTUS challenge to NSA seizure of phone records. Not so good on follow through. Flirts with tea party. Occasionally dismayed by GOP anti-science stands. Not, as they say, distinguishing himself as a candidate. Another flip-flopper. A mixed voting record on climate change. He voted for an amendment in January that said that climate change is real and humans contribute to it. Then in March cast a vote against a bill that would cut carbon emissions. It’s a sensitive issue for Paul’s home state of Kentucky, which keeps the lights on with electricity almost exclusively powered by coal and which is also the third-largest coal producing state in the U.S.
Rick Perry Withdrew. Four-time Texas governor, famous for the all-time most embarrassing debate gaffé ever when he could not remember which three federal agencies he would shut down. Be ready to hear that gaffé over and over. Boasts of creating lots and lots of minimum wage jobs in Texas. Likely to be even more reactionary when not conked on pain meds. Can the country survive another cowboy from Texas?
Marco Rubio Junior senator from Florida. Somewhat wonkish, prone to serious policy speeches. Famously flip-flopped on immigration, first leading the charge on immigration reform, now supports piecemeal, minimal reform, annoying both conservatives and pro-reform GOPers. Joined tea partyers in supporting the government shutdown to try to force defunding of the ACA. Climate change denier, even though, you know, Florida. Willing to say anything to distinguish himself from The Donald. Increasingly shrill. “I believe climate is changing because there’s never been a moment where the climate is not changing. Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activity. I do not agree with that.” Another anti-science, climate change denier.
Rick Santorum Former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, the candidate for the religious right. Appeals to evangelical Christians who liked his arch-conservative Catholicism. The candidate for those who want a theocracy. Might do well in primaries but likely little general election appeal. May just be running to buff his image. Competing with Huckabee for the right wing Christianist vote. And the Michele Bachmann Idiocy Award. “Any time you hear a scientist say the science is settled, that’s political science, not real science, because no scientists in their right mind would say ever the science is settled.” As far as he’s concerned, the idea that man is responsible for the warming and cooling of the earth is “just patently absurd,” he told Rush Limbaugh in 2011, and “just an excuse for more government control of your life.” Yet another anti-science, climate change denier. It’s God’s will, no doubt.
The Donald Real estate magnate, “reality television” star and serial bankrupt Donald Trump toys with running for president every four years to buff his public reputation, or perhaps just because he craves attention. You can’t take Mr. Comb Over seriously. But an appallingly significant number of Republicans apparently do. Leads the pack, for a given definition of “leads.” The Donald has yet to take a formal position, it’s probably fair to say he’s not a believer in global warming. His commentary on the topic over Twitter goes back a few years, and that largely denies climate change, especially whenever the weather is cold. Either confuses weather with science or is a cynical, unprincipled opportunist.
Scott Walker Withdrew. Inexplicably popular governor of Wisconsin, famous for anti-union positions and surviving a recall. GOP has seized on recall survival as an election credential. Dark horse candidate with strong appeal to conservative primary voters. Went from First to Last at record pace.

WC will revisit this list as the Republican primary process proceeds, as often as he can stomach it.

  1. WC announces here that he is not a Republican candidate for President.