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GOP Candidates Challenge the ‘Imperative’ of Climate Change

Where Presidential Candidates Stand on Climate Change 2:10

With global negotiations going on in Paris, the issue of climate change, an intensely political issue, is reemerging in the presidential race.

While candidates in the Republican field vary on their positions of global warming, with some who outright deny the phenomenon (Sen. Ted Cruz and Ben Carson) to those at the other end of the spectrum who do say that climate change is caused - at least in part - by human activity (Sen. Lindsey Graham and N.J. Gov. Chris Christie and Jeb Bush), the field of GOP contenders has been mostly quiet so far in response to international effort to reduce global emissions.

Except for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump who weighed in after being asked about it on MSNBC's Morning Joe."

“I think one of the dumbest statements I've ever heard in politics, in the history of politics as I know it, which is pretty good, was Obama's statement that our No. 1 problem is global warming,” Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Obama said in Paris Monday that "the growing threat of climate change could define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other."

And in his State of the Union address this year that there is “no greater threat” than global warming.

In Portsmouth, NH, Christie questioned Obama's prioritization of climate change after that city's terror attacks.

"We have a situation around the world now where now you look at the president in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks, in the aftermath of all of the information that we’ve gotten regarding the heightened state of threat around the world, and he travels overseas to say that climate change is the American imperative for leadership," Christie said.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said something similar: "Let me just say no matter how you feel about the issue of the environment and climate and changes to climate, there's no way any reasonable person could conclude that the most immediate threat we face to our security is what the climate is going to look like in 25 or 30 years. It's just, no matter how you feel about it, it's just no accurate."

Democratic presidential candidates, meanwhile, who are on the same side of the issue as Obama, have echoed his remarks.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders addressed the issue at the New Hampshire Jefferson Jackson dinner Sunday evening.

"Republicans must start worrying about the planet they will leave their kids and grandchildren, not about the campaign contributions they may lose from the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel industry," he said.

Hillary Clinton wrote an opinion piece in Time directly challenging many of the candidates in the Republican field.

“The Republican deniers, defeatists and obstructionists should know—their cynical efforts will fail,” Clinton wrote,” attempting to debunk many Republicans’ main critique of addressing climate change. “We must reject the false choice between combating climate change and fostering strong economic growth.”

Clinton added: “But President Obama remains committed to making the United States the global leader in the fight against climate change—and so do I.”

Clinton’s top adviser, John Podesta, tweeted about the importance of climate change.

Clinton’s proposal echoed those put forward by President Barack Obama in Paris on Monday. She called for “all countries” to take responsibility and for financial assistance to developing countries to help “achieve sustainable growth.”

Clinton also said she “will set ambitious goals” that include 500 million solar panels in four years as well as formulating a North American Climate Compact.