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 ObamaThe Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary George Conway: 'If Barack Obama had done this' Republicans would be 'out for blood' George Conway to take part in MSNBC impeachment hearing coverage 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 InsleeO'Rourke ends presidential bid Sunrise Movement organizer: Sanders, Warren boast strongest climate change plans Overnight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate 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 senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 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.”