The two presidential candidates are scheduled to face each other for the final time this week, less than two weeks before Election Day, in their first debate against each other.
And the six topics on the prime-time stage are bound to be wide ranging, so a few things are certainly certain.
President Trump: Vice President Joe Biden told “CBS This Morning” Monday that he considered Trump’s prior controversial statements and actions to be “dangerous.” On Tuesday, he promised, “we’re going to ask him how he plans to move America forward in dealing with the climate issue.”
At this point, it’s probably too much to hope that Biden would broach the subject directly; that he would dare address it in any way. However, the vice president has said he hopes to raise his climate agenda as a policy theme if he runs in 2020 and won’t rule out trying to introduce it during the debate, or within the campaign. In all likelihood, Biden’s statement is meant to pre-emptively cut off the seemingly certain furor that has arisen in recent days over Trump’s tweeting that rainclouds would not fall on Paris.
Governor Ralph Northam, who has been struggling to improve his standing in the Virginia race, planned to bring up global warming at an event at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he is a graduate, and his campaign said he planned to raise the topic in a debate.
Joe Biden will sit next to Ivanka Trump at tonight’s debate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Donald Trump: When he sat down with 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl last week, Trump had already begun to recast his positions on climate change. He acknowledged the science behind it, and pledged to “look at what can be done.” He seems to have discarded ideas of overturning climate change regulations and blamed China and Canada for largely imposing the warming threat on the United States. But he still did not shy away from making up his mind, as he had done during the primary campaign. He still believes that climate change is a vast liberal hoax.
Vice President Biden took President Trump to task on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, saying, “This is not a hoax. It’s real. It’s happening.”
Ralph Northam and his running mate Justin Fairfax — running in the Virginia race — haven’t mentioned climate change in their campaign materials. And Fairfax, a lawyer who is on many experts’ lists of people to watch for possible attorney general of Virginia, seems to have no connection to climate change issues.
But Northam’s decision to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, where he graduated in 1981, coincides with his visit there, his campaign said, and his support of the school itself.
So does Ralph Northam have a connection to climate change? His campaign, in an e-mailed statement, suggested that Fairfax does. They referred to a report that Fairfax speaks at a tree-planting event to celebrate Arbor Day.
If Northam wins the Virginia race, he might well seek the office that Fairfax, who finished third in the primary election, has held in his home state. Fairfax’s campaign did not respond to requests for a statement.
Ralph Northam and Justin Fairfax — both candidates for governor of Virginia — chose to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Barack Obama. He has made climate change a rare public focus, and there is no doubt that it is a key theme of his presidency — certainly all those “Just say no” campaign videos made him the subject of climate-change crusades around the world — with the E.P.A. climate policies being just one. And he took a sharp turn away from his own skepticism on climate science at the start of his presidency to take an up-front stance on combating global warming, as well as pursuing clean energy and other green initiatives.
Also in attendance: Steven Chu, the first secretary of the Energy Department under President Obama, and Maria Cantwell, the senator from Washington state.