Photo credit: World Economic Forum via Flickr/CC BY-SA
It's like music to mine ears: A Republican presidential candidate talking sense on science -- and climate science, to boot. GOP presidential candidate Jon Hunstman let loose in a fiery interview on ABC over the weekend, in which he criticized Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry as catering to the extreme right of the Republican party. He blasted them for questioning evolution and bashing climate science -- and shot back with a statement that his GOP contemporaries should pay attention to: "The moment the Republican party becomes the anti-science party, we have a huge problem."
Huntsman is clearly working overtime to try to position himself as the moderate candidate who can beat Barack Obama in the general election -- hence all the comments about his rivals' extreme views (which are pretty easy to make, because, well, they're so extreme). But it's interesting that he's chosen to hit on science as the locus of this strategy.
Most Americans, after all, aren't diehard Fox News aficionados or Rush Limbaugh idolizers who despise scientific progress. Most Americans think science is pretty cool, and are generally thankful for the technological and pharmaceutical advancements, as well as the discoveries about the natural world, that scientists have been responsible for over the years.
And Huntsman is right -- eventually, the GOP's disavowal of science will be bad news not just for the nation but for its own electoral prospects. Huntsman thinks this will be the case this election cycle -- that the GOP might nominate Bachmann or Perry, only to find that the moderate public is scared off by their disbelief in evolution and their insistence that climate change is a nefarious hoax. This could indeed happen. In fact, Democratic strategists are praying for such a scenario. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to help the prospects of the lone Republican who's willing to talk straight about science -- the far-right Tea Party will be driving votes in the Republican primary, and they're rejecting Huntsman as wholly as they reject climate science. But mark his words -- denying science is a bad move any way you cut it.
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More on Republican Science Policy
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Fight Brews in GOP Over Extreme Climate Change Denial