The top 10 candidates for the first Republican presidential debate tried to make the most of the few minutes granted to them to woo voters this week.
While there were no clear victors of the night, only Donald Trump managed to grab the most attention and headlines – of course, for all the wrong reasons.
The presidential hopefuls talked about immigration, abortion and foreign policy, especially focusing on Iran because of the recent nuclear deal. They also, if sparsely, discussed racism in the country, giving that it's been a burning issue for the past year.
But two topics that were completely ignored during the entire event were perhaps two of the most important issues of all: climate change and gun control.
The debate was a huge disappointment for science reporters like Seth Borenstein, a longtime science writer for the Associated Press.
Spent the last two hours watching GOP debate to factcheck on science, climate & environment issues. Nothing said, nothing to do.— seth borenstein (@borenbears) August 7, 2015
However, the fact that global warming was ignored during a GOP debate should not really come as a surprise since most of the contenders are notorious climate change deniers.
Rand Paul, for example, stated in an April interview that the science behind climate change is not conclusive. “The earth’s 4.5 billion years old, and you’re going to say that we had four hurricanes and so it proves a theory?” he said.
Jeb Bush isn’t really a denier but has rather been a skeptic. “I think global warming may be real,” he said in an interview. “It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately manmade. What I get a little tired of on the left is this idea that somehow science has decided all this so you can’t have a view.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has lately avoided all climate change talk, famously said in 2011: “When you have over 90 percent of the world’s scientists who have studied this stating that climate change is occurring and that humans play a contributing role, it’s time to defer to the experts.”
And Ted Cruz believes the entire thing is just a hoax. “The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming,” he told CNN earlier this year. “Contrary to all the theories that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn’t happened.”
Another important issue that took a back seat at the GOP face-off was gun control – the one that President Barack Obama called the biggest frustration of his two terms in office.
Despite 207 mass shootings in the country this year, including the Charleston church massacre in South Carolina, the Marine and Navy reserve shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee and the one in a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, Republican candidates as well as Fox News moderators chose to ignore guns entirely. And it’s not really difficult to answer why.
Trump, the so-called star of the debate, has boisterously campaigned against gun-free zones for years now.
In a 2014 interview with The Washington Times, the New York businessman criticized the Aurora theater where James Holmes massacred 12 people and injured 70 more for being a gun-free zone. “If some of the people in the movie theater had a gun, they’d have been shooting at him,” he said. “Nobody had a gun so they were totally defenseless.” He reiterated his opinion in July following the Chattanooga shooting:
Get rid of gun free zones. The four great marines who were just shot never had a chance. They were highly trained but helpless without guns.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 17, 2015
Bush "has a conservative record on gun rights, having signed Florida's first-in-the-nation 'Stand Your Ground' bill into law in 2005," according to Vox. In fact, he strongly believes his pro-gun measures have helped reduce gun violence in the Sunshine State.
And Cruz is perhaps the most trigger-friendly GOP candidate of them all. Just recently, he appeared in a video in which he was shown making breakfast with a machine gun.
Given their track record with the two subjects, it’s now evident why neither guns nor global warming was mentioned even once during the debate. But it’s not like they can go on avoiding it. If these men plan to run the country someday, it’s not possible for them to ignore the two issues that are central to the upcoming elections.