Sen. Marco Rubio, 43, has announced his 2016 presidential bid, and with it, has billed himself as the younger, fresher choice for president with both his age and message being key parts of his campaign.
However, as young and forward-thinking as Rubio claims he is, there is one stance he takes that doesn’t quite fit his “generational” voice: climate change.
The presidential hopeful has acknowledged that the climate is changing, but has expressed skepticism that it is being caused solely by humans.
“I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” Rubio said recently on the television news program “This Week.”
He has also said that the threat of climate change does not justify pursuing policies that he contends would harm the economy.
“I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy,” Rubio later added. “The fact is that these events that we’re talking about are impacting us, because we built very expensive structures in Florida and other parts of the country near areas that are prone to hurricanes. We’ve had hurricanes in Florida forever. And the question is, what do we do about the fact that we have built expensive structures, real estate and population centers near those vulnerable areas?” he asked. “I have no problem with taking mitigation activity.”
Rubio’s views on climate change haven’t always been like this.
Back in 2008, when he was the leader of the Florida House, Rubio voted in favor of passing of a law that would cap carbon emissions in the state, something he would later deny and distance himself from.
Yet, as a climate change-skeptic, Rubio also chairs the subcommittee that oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency that’s major responsibility is collecting data used for tracking climate change.
It’s for this reason that, in the past, Rubio has been called a flip-flopper when it comes to climate change, with a more solidified position only appearing more recently.
The irony of Rubio’s position as a naysayer to man-made climate change who also wants the young vote is not lost on Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The congresswoman tweeted out the following almost immediately after Rubio’s announcement.
He's stuck his head in the sand on climate change & proposed budgets that would hurt Florida families - Sen Rubio doesn't inspire confidence— Debbie Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) April 13, 2015
With this, Rubio has an uphill battle to fight when it comes to obtaining the vote of a more environmentally-conscious generation, but it should also be said that Rubio’s campaign finds its strength in his personal American Dream in being the son of Cuban immigrants.
So while his views on climate change won’t sit well for some, the definition of Rubio’s presidential bid as the new American Dream will definitely sit well with others.
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Shawn Thomas is a Web Producer for CBS Local. Follow him on Twitter.