Energy & Environment

Five top 2020 Democrats haven’t committed to MSNBC climate forum

Five of the leading Democratic presidential hopefuls have not confirmed their participation in an MSNBC climate forum slated for this week.

Front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar have not committed to being a part of the two-day climate forum to be held at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., a university official confirmed to The Hill.

{mosads}The candidates’ decisions to skip the event would be a departure from the attendance of all of the ten highest polling hopefuls at CNN’s 7-hour climate town hall that was held earlier this month. 

Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg will be the highest-profile Democratic names appearing at the MSNBC event. All three candidates have released individual climate policies.

Other candidates who will be speaking at the Thursday and Friday all-day events include Democratic candidates who did not make it onto CNN’s stage, such as author Marianne Williamson, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, businessman Tom Steyer and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R), who is challenging President Trump in the Republican primary.

Democratic hopefuls Andrew Yang and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro will also attend.

Friday’s portion of the climate forum will coincide with another forum being held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that is focused on LGBTQ issues. 

A representative for Warren’s campaign referenced the Iowa forum as the reason why the candidate, who has been consistently polling in second or third place, will be skipping the climate event.

“She will be holding a town hall and participating in the LGBTQ+ presidential forum. She will also have a specific stop to talk about how we take on climate change,” the spokesperson said.

Representatives for the four other campaigns not attending the MSNBC event did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Candidates committed to attend the LGBTQ forum include Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Harris, Klobuchar, Warren and Williamson.

Monica Medina, a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official under former President Obama who is helping to organize the climate forum in conjunction with Our Daily Planet, said the candidates who are making the event were able to arrange their schedules so they could attend the climate forum Thursday and still attend the LGBTQ forum Friday.

Sanders and Castro are both speaking at the climate event Thursday. Booker is scheduled for Friday morning, with Buttigieg in the early afternoon.

Medina added that it was important for candidates to attend this week’s event, despite the fact that it is the second major forum to be held on the issue.

“We certainly think it’s important to have as much discussion about this topic as possible and even the prior climate forum had some limits to what it covered and a different format and wasn’t targeted to students,” Medina told The Hill.

“I would think it would be very valuable for the public to have all the candidates, particularly the ones in the top tier.”

She said that the fact that the MSNBC forum will be largely focused on students would provide candidates time to appeal to an important voter base.

“We really hope that as many candidates as possible will be there to participate in this forum. It’s an all-student audience and student questions, since this is so important to exciting young people on the issue.” 

Polls show climate change is a top voting issue for Democrats and is an especially important topic amongst young voters.

Tags Amy Klobuchar Andrew Yang Bernie Sanders Beto O'Rourke Bill Weld climate forum Cory Booker Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Julian Castro Marianne Williamson MSNBC Pete Buttigieg Students Tim Ryan Tom Steyer

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