Ohio Governor and GOP presidential candidate John Kasich told Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, that the theory of man-made climate change was unproven. When Chuck Todd asked Kasich if he believed climate change was human caused and if we should take action to address it, Kasich responded:
We don’t want to destroy people’s jobs based on some theory that’s not proven.
In that fateful remark, the Ohio Governor signaled his intent to walk the GOP party line on climate change denial. By dismissing climate change as unproven, and by espousing the false dichotomy that we must choose between preserving jobs and saving the planet, Kasich proved his willingness to abandon moderate politics in order to appeal to right-wing voters.
In the past, Kasich has argued that man-made climate change is real. However, now that he is trying to leapfrog other Republicans to enter the top-tier in the presidential race, he is willing to change his position. He is attempting to placate the science deniers who make up a substantial portion of the GOP primary electorate.
The Kasich campaign followed up his Sunday Meet the Press remarks by trying to explain that the Ohio Governor is not a climate change denier. A campaign spokesperson stated:
The governor has long believed climate change is real and we need to so something about it. The debate over exact percentages of why it is happening is less important than what can be done about it. We know it is real, we know man has an impact, and we know we need to do something.
Although that statement was intended to reassure moderate voters that Kasich didn’t mean what he said during the interview, it appears the campaign is trying to have it both ways. They want conservative voters to believe that Kasich rejects the theory of human caused climate change, while simultaneously hoping they can convince moderate voters that Kasich is still one of them.
However, in Kasich’s efforts to pander to the far right, while trying to maintain his grip on the center, the Ohio Governor will almost certainly lose support from both groups. Very few voters are impressed by a candidate whose main motivation appears to be to get elected. They are unlikely to trust a politician who tries to deceive voters by changing his position repeatedly over the course of a campaign, depending upon when and where he is speaking. Kasich’s flip flop on climate change is probably just the beginning of a whole series of flip flops the GOP candidate will commit, in his fruitless efforts to appear to be all things to all people.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.