VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell said Saturdayhe believes the globe is warming but wouldn't fix blame on manmadecarbon emissions as its cause.
McDonnell said after a veterans rally with Sen. John McCainthat he remains firmly opposed to energy reform legislationintended to slow global warming by reducing carbon emissions intothe atmosphere.
"I think it's a real concern, and we need to find ways to beable to reduce (carbon dioxide) emissions," McDonnell said inadvocating development of technology to eliminate pollutants fromcoal-fired energy plants.
When asked to clarify whether he believes that global warmingis scientific fact, however, he hedged.
"Well, there's some debate that various scientists are goingon in that," he said. "I think the temperature of the earth, fromthe science I've seen, is going up."
Then, asked if he believed elevated levels of manmade carbonemissions in the atmosphere were to blame, he said, "Look, it's notgoing to affect my policy decisions. What the policy decision needsto be is to find ways that are creative to be able to reduce CO2."
"I am going to accept the science that's out there, and thescience is that we need to do everything that we can to reduce CO2emissions in the atmosphere, and that will help," he said.
The issue had simmered since a debate Monday with Democraticrival R. Creigh Deeds, in which McDonnell never definitivelyanswered a question about whether he believes manmade climatechange is a serious threat. It flared Friday after former VicePresident and climate change watchdog Al Gore held a fundraiser forDeeds, and Virginia Republicans said it proved Deeds supportscap-and-trade legislation that they claim will increase energycosts and worsen unemployment. They dismissed the Nobel laureate as"the Goracle."
Virginia Democrats fired back by calling McDonnell and theGOP ticket he heads as "the most backward, anti-science" ever inVirginia.
"For the better part of a week, Bob McDonnell has had theopportunity to answer the straightforward question, 'Do you believein the science of global warming,' and he still refuses. It's not ahard question," said Deeds strategist Mo Elleithee.
The question came again after McCain and McDonnell addresseda crowd of veterans in a region rich with military installations,including the world's largest U.S. Navy base in neighboringNorfolk.
McCain in his presidential campaign last year said hebelieved global warming from human causes is a fact to be takenseriously. Other Republicans concur, including Sen. Lindsey Grahamof South Carolina, former Virginia Sen. John W. Warner and formerpresident George W. Bush. But many Republicans vehemently rejectthat global warming is caused by air pollution.
McCain, a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, said PresidentBarack Obama's administration was "missing in action" in advocatingthe use of nuclear power, which generates no carbon exhaust. But hesaid reducing atmospheric carbon should be a goal no matter whetherpeople accept or reject climate change as fact.
"Suppose we are right, those of us who believe climate changeis taking place, and move forward with various measures to reducegreenhouse gas emissions," McCain said. "But the bill that passedthe House of Representatives isn't cap and trade, it's cap andtax."
McCain's visit and Gore's the day before signal a quickeningof the pace of visits by high-profile proxies in the final sprintto the Nov. 3 election. Obama returns to Virginia to campaign withDeeds on Oct. 27, and former President Bill Clinton will stump withDeeds later this month.
Just one year after Obama's election in a Democratic sweep,both parties are fighting fiercely in governors' races in Virginiaand New Jersey, the only statewide elections this fall.
McCain's visit is an effort to energize veterans in Virginia,which has the largest percentage of military veterans of any state.
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