Kerry, Gingrich announce climate showdown

Former House Speaker and possible presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and 2004 Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) are set to square off on climate change next week, their staffs announced Thursday.

The debate, hosted by New York University’s John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress, will take place next Tuesday, April 10, at 10 a.m. in the Russell Senate Office Building.

Kerry, who bowed out of the 2008 presidential race earlier this year, has been dubbed an “environmental champion” by the non-partisan League of Conservation Voters. His website touts a long record of fighting for the environment. He and his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry also recently wrote This Moment on Earth, which addresses climate change and preserving the environment.

"Newt’s a guy who has spent a lot of time wrestling with climate change and the environment. He reads about it, he teaches about it, he writes about it,” Kerry said Thursday. “We don’t see eye to eye about everything, obviously, but that’s what makes for a good debate.

“As a father, when someone tells me that within the next decade, if we don't deal with global warming, our children and grandchildren may deal with global catastrophe, that tells me I damn well better do whatever I can to help make Washington deal with this responsibly,” Kerry added. “We need these good old-fashioned debates and forums and discussions to get everyone thinking creatively on both sides of the aisle.”

Gingrich, the architect of the “Contract with America” that led to the Republican takeover of the House in 1994, recently teamed up with conservationist Terry Maple to author A Contract with the Earth. Like his Contract with America, A Contract with the Earth, due out Nov. 1, 2007, is based on a 10-point “contract” calling for a bipartisan approach to solving climate issues.

“America should focus its energy policy in four areas,” Gingrich writes on his website. “Basic research for a new energy system, incentives for conservation, more renewable resources, and environmentally sound development of fossil fuels.

“The lengthy process of environmental planning must be made more efficient and cost effective,” he adds.

Kerry also noted he hopes this debate will keep climate change in the forefront of Americans’ minds.

“This is an issue of incredible importance to everyone’s lives, and we need to do big and small things every day to draw attention to the problem as well as the solutions. Al Gore has done a phenomenal job with his movie,” he added. “You do what you can to build the dialogue.”