Mitt Romney Flip-Flops On Climate Change

Here’s Mitt Romney on climate change in June:

It seemed like a straightforward question on a second-tier issue: Would Mitt Romney disavow the science behind global warming?

The putative Republican presidential front-runner, eager to prove his conservative bona fides, could easily have said what he knew many in his party’s base wanted to hear.

Instead, the former Massachusetts governor stuck to the position he has held for many years — that he believes the world is getting warmer and that humans are contributing to that pattern.

Romney’s answer to the question about climate change last Friday during his first town hall meeting since announcing his second presidential campaign allowed him to demonstrate what he hopes voters will see as a new and improved candidate — an authentic leader with core convictions.

But the exchange in New Hampshire also served as a fresh indicator of Romney’s great quandary. He must shed the flip-flopper reputation that haunted his last presidential campaign while also appealing to conservative voters wary of his past support for near-universal health care, abortion rights, same-sex marriage and other positions befitting a politician elected in liberal Massachusetts.

So far, Romney’s reviews from the right are not positive. His views about climate change in particular put him at odds with many in his party’s base.

“Bye-bye, nomination,” Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday on his radio talk show after playing a clip of Romney’s climate remark. “Another one down. We’re in the midst here of discovering that this is all a hoax. The last year has established that the whole premise of man-made global warming is a hoax, and we still have presidential candidates that want to buy into it.”

Then came the Club for Growth, which issued a white paper criticizing Romney. “Governor Romney’s regulatory record as governor contains some flaws,” the report said, “including a significant one — his support of ‘global warming’ policies.”

And, a blog run by some of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s more active supporters, posted an item charging that Romney is “simpatico” with President Obama after he “totally bought into the man-made global warming hoax.”

A Romney spokeswoman declined to comment about the criticism but did provide excerpts from Romney’s 2009 book, “No Apology ,” in which the candidate articulates the same environmental positions.

Here’s Mitt Romney on climate change in Pittsburgh earlier this week:

My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.

National Review’s Katrina Trinko tries to argue that Romney really hasn’t changed his position here:

In June, Romney made similar comments, saying, “I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world’s getting warmer. … I believe that humans contribute to that. I don’t know how much our contribution is to that.”

So while Romney did not specifically mention that he believed humans are partially responsible for climate change in these comments, he has previously been careful to stress how little is known about what causes climate change and how he himself is uncertain over how much of it is caused by humans. It looks like it would have been more precise for him to have said “we don’t know fully what’s causing climate change …” and noted that he believes humans are playing some role, but this is not the first time Romney has stressed how little is known about what is causing climate change.

Nice parsing there, but it strikes me that this just plays into the general perception on the right that Romney will do whatever it takes to get elected. How else to explain backing away from the position he took in June?


FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Environment, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.


  1. john personna says:

    I would say “unbelievable” but sadly, I’m not really that surprised.

    BTW, the last time this came up I believe OTB commenters pointed to physicist Richard Muller. In a supreme irony, he’s come to understand and agree with the AGW claim … and now the deniers abandon him.

    Totally friggin’ classic. As I’ve noted many times, deniers never stand on an argument. They chuck whatever blind they have when it fails, and try a new one.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Listen, I think you’re going to end up cluttering your page with “Romney flip-flops on. . .” stories. I wonder if you should set aside a new section devoted just to that. Otherwise two thirds of your posts will be on this one topic. Don’t forget, we still have the walk-back on AGW denial, then the walk-back of the walk-back, and the walk-back of the walk-back of the walk-back. And that’s just one topic.

  3. Micahel says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That’s a great idea!

  4. DMan says:

    My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.

    I’m not sure this should be classified as a flip-flop. Perhaps it’s more of a walk back? I think he could still argue some nuance in his view here. Perhaps he believes humans have contributed to global warming, but still believes it’s debatable the ways and the degree to which they are, and is thus skeptical of regulations and policies that, in his view, might not do anything to reverse climate change?

    Such a stance can actually be supported by both deniers and skeptics, and perhaps even move some deniers towards mere skepticism, which at least is some progress on shifting the debate, no?

  5. Micahel says:


    That’s why he has an army of lawyers; when he flip-flops the lawyers can argue that it really wasn’t a flip-flop or use semantics to call it something else.

  6. DMan says:


    Okay, well his “army of lawyers” can argue whatever they like. I can still trust my ability to analyze his arguments on my own. If he can successfully convince me of nuance in his views, all the power to him. I believe Romney flip-flops for political convenience more than any politician in history, so I’m definitely wary of his support for any position. That said, I still wouldn’t charge him with flip-flopping here, because it just isn’t glaringly obvious to me anything he said is necessarily contradictory. Believing humans contribute to global warming and believing we don’t know the cause of global warming aren’t necessarily contradictory beliefs to me, as I’ve explained above.