Democrats face off on climate change positions in first debate

Democrats face off on climate change positions in first debate
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A group of Democratic presidential hopefuls sparred over climate change policies Wednesday night, spending several minutes discussing the issue in the first primary debate of the 2020 race.
 
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, former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeDeval Patrick enters 2020 race O'Rourke says he 'absolutely' plans to stay in politics Krystal Ball: Buttigieg is 'the boomer candidate' MORE (Texas), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanDebate crowd erupts in laughs as Sanders chimes in 'I wrote the damn bill' on Medicare for All The Hill's Campaign Report: Late bids surprise 2020 Democratic field Tim Ryan endorses Biden for president MORE (Ohio) and former Rep. John DelaneyJohn Kevin Delaney2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the November forum Poll: Biden holds 20-point lead in South Carolina Deval Patrick: a short runway, but potential to get airborne MORE (Md.) all agreed that climate change was happening and should to be dealt with.
 
Inslee, who has based nearly his entire campaign on combating climate change, argued that he was the only Democratic candidate who would promise to make the issue their first priority if elected to the White House.
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"The most important thing on this, and the biggest thing for the American public, is — who is going to make this the first priority?" Inslee said. "I am the only candidate who says this has to be the top issue."
 
O'Rourke, who like Inslee has introduced a policy proposal to address climate change if he were to win, pointed to carbon capture as a method he'd utilize to fix the issue.
 
"Houston and Miami, those people are on the front lines of climate change today — we are going to free ourselves from the dependence of fossil fuels and capture more carbon in the air, and keep more in the soil," he said.
 
Pointing to his time spent in hurricane-devastated San Juan, Puerto Rico, Castro said his first focus would be on repledging the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement, which President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE announced a withdrawal from in 2017.
 
Ryan dodged offering specifics on a climate plan he might have, instead warning that Democrats risked losing middle-class and Midwestern voters by focusing on "coastal" and "Ivy League issues."
 
"We can talk about climate. We can talk about guns. We can talk about all of these issues we care about. We have a perception problem with the Democratic Party," he said.
 
"We are not connecting to the middle-class people. We have got to hinge the center of gravity from being coastal and elitist and Ivy League ... to getting those workers back on our side so we can say we are going to build solar, we are going to build electric vehicles."
 
Candidates debated potential approaches to combating climate change after the topic was raised by moderators near the end of the two-hour debate.
The candidates were among 10 who appeared in the first Democratic presidential debate Wednesday night, along with Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (Mass.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (Minn.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (N.J.) as well as Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Gabbard, Buttigieg battle over use of military in Mexico MORE (Hawaii) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
 
Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE will appear center stage in the second debate Thursday night in Miami, along with nine other candidates.