Ron DeSantis rejects GOP debate vote on climate change belief, other candidates follow his lead
Image via AP.

DeSantis Climate AP Debate
Florida’s Governor blocked a simple show of hands on climate change belief because, as he explained it, ‘we're not schoolchildren.’

It would’ve made for a good snapshot of the GOP debate Wednesday night, but Ron DeSantis shut the photo op down.

Returning from the debate’s first commercial break, co-host Martha MacCallum of Fox News called for a show of hands from candidates who think Earth’s rising tides and record heat waves are human-made.

DeSantis rejected MacCallum’s request before any candidate hoisted their arm, explaining that he and his candidates are “not schoolchildren” and should “have the debate” on the subject.

“I don’t think that’s the way to do it,” he said of Martha’s phrasing, before pivoting to an attack on President Joe Biden’s response to the deadly fires in Maui and touting his own action following Hurricane Ian’s devastation of Southwest Florida last year.

“Biden was on the beach while those people were suffering. He was asked about it and he said no comment. Are you kidding me? As somebody that’s handled disasters in Florida, you’ve got to be activated. You’ve got to be there. You’ve got to be present. You’ve got to be helping people who are doing this.”

Asked by debate co-host Bret Baier whether that answer represented a raised hand, DeSantis said emphatically, “I did not raise a hand.”

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who is polling in third place nationally behind DeSantis and the front-runner, Donald Trump, left no room for ambiguity about where he stands on the issue.

“Let’s be honest as Republicans, I’m the only person on this stage who isn’t bought and paid for so I can say this, the climate change agenda is a hoax,” he said, grinning while boos rose from the audience following his attack on his fellow Republicans.

“We have to declare independence from it. And the reality is the anti-carbon agenda is the wet blanket on our economy. … More people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of the actual climate change.”

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley accepted the pass on hand-raising as well but indicated she believed human pollution is a major factor in the world’s weather woes.

“We do care about clean air, clean water. We do want to see that taken care of, but there’s a right way to do it,” she said. “Is climate change real? Yes, it is. But if you want to really change the environment, then we have to tell China and India that they have to lower their emissions. That’s where our problem is.”

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina echoed Haley’s sentiments.

“America has cut our carbon footprint in half in the last 25 years,” he said. That is inaccurate, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which places the decrease at 20% since 2005.

Scott continued, “The places where they are continuing to increase — Africa, 950 million people; India, over a billion; China, over a billion. Why would we put ourselves (at) a disadvantage, devastating our own economy? Let’s bring our jobs home.”

The debate broadcast then broke for commercials, after which none of the four other candidates on stage — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former Vice President Mike Pence, ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson — brought up the hand-raising request or climate change issue.

Former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the GOP nomination who skipped the debate in favor of an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, has long called climate change a “hoax.”

“If you look into the 1920s, they were talking about global freezing, OK? In other words, the globe was going to freeze,” he told Fox Business host Stuart Varney in March 2022. “And then there’s global warming. Then they couldn’t use that because the temperatures were actually quite cool, and many different things. So now they just talk about climate change. The climate’s always been changing.”

In the last month, Florida has repeatedly recorded record levels of heat, resulting in a “100% coral mortality” off the coast of the Florida Keys. According to the National Conference of Citizenship’s Pandemic to Prosperity report, heat-related deaths in the Sunshine State increased by 88% between 2019 and 2022.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • How not to lead

    August 24, 2023 at 12:13 am

    DeSantis literally did anything to avoid giving straight answers tonight.

  • Michael K

    August 24, 2023 at 9:13 am

    Rons regurgitatated his standard lines – that’s al. Nothing spontaneous, and anger .t oned I dtown just a tad. I think Niki Haley really proved herself as a reasonable, level-headed, practical person. And I do think she would be the front-runner but the GOP has a problem with women.

    • Tom

      August 24, 2023 at 10:00 am

      I’d agree. She seems to be the only honest / not stupid one out of the crowd which is a pretty low bar admittedly but she did well imo.

  • Mike

    August 24, 2023 at 11:57 am

    Of course. They will NEVER answer that question because they want to coddle to the low iq conspiracy theorist voter base, which makes up 90% of republicans

  • My Take

    August 24, 2023 at 9:24 pm

    DeSScumtis would have defended tobacco from the cancer hoax. Gas from the lead hoax. And all manner of pesticides and industrial chemicals spread or released by the kiloton
    Public health is woke.

Comments are closed.


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