DNC chair says 2020 climate change debate is 'not practical' after being confronted by activists

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE on Saturday said a presidential debate focused solely on climate change is not “practical” after a group of activists confronted him about the issue.

“It’s just not practical,” Perez told the activists after delivering remarks at the Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue gala, according to The Tampa Bay Times. “And as someone who worked for Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump takes credit for passing veterans bill that passed under Obama Orlando Sentinel declines to endorse Trump in 2020 Progressive activist: Democratic nominee will 'need to ride a little bit to the center' MORE, the most remarkable thing about him was his tenacity to multitask, and a president must be able to multitask.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The DNC last week informed Democratic presidential hopeful and Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleePoll: Biden leads Sanders by 22 points Poll: Biden leads Sanders by 22 points Debunking Democrats' claims about fossil fuel tax breaks MORE (D) that it would not host a debate focused entirely on climate change, which has emerged as a hot-button issue among candidates and voters. 

Inslee, who has cast climate change as the centerpiece of his White House bid, had been demanding that the DNC host a debate focused singularly on the issue. He sent a letter to Perez last Tuesday urging the Democratic party to "ensure that the climate crisis is on the agenda," saying the topic required a full debate. 

When asked about the rejection after speaking at the Florida Democratic Party's largest fundraiser, Perez stressed that each debate will cover a wide range of issues, the Times noted. He added that "once you have one single issue debate, then every debate leads to become a single issue debate in order to address the concerns."

"A lot of young people say we should have a single debate focused on climate change," Perez said. "I’ve heard from folks very concerned about the trigger finger guy known as [national security adviser John] Bolton, who is going to bring us to war in Iran, who say while foreign policy might be No. 12 on people’s list, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE might try to get us into a war in order to win reelection. So what we have said to everybody is that all of these issues are important. Frankly, if we don’t fix our broken politics through democracy reform we’re not going to be able to pass any laws."

Inslee said last week that the DNC's decision amounted to "silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field."

"Democratic voters say that climate change is their top issue; the Democratic National Committee must listen to the grassroots of the party," he added in a statement.

Aisling Kerins, a spokesperson for Inslee, said in a statement to the Times on Saturday that Perez's argument diminished the "organizing effort of our partner progressive organizations who have been demanding a climate debate.”