CNN’s Toobin: McCain’s Global Warming Stump ‘Like Acknowledging Gravity’

CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, during a panel discussion on Monday’s "The Situation Room," reacted sarcastically to John McCain’s recent campaign speech on climate change. "Well, you know, this story illustrates just how low the bar is for Republicans on the environment.You know, the fact that he acknowledges global warming is seen as a big advantage for him, but it's like acknowledging gravity. It is a scientific fact." Toobin then compared McCain to President Bush on the issue, stating that "the real issue is not whether it [global warming] exists. The question is what to do about it, and, in that area, he's not as far as to the right as Bush is, but he's pretty close." [audio available here]

Earlier in the segment, which began at the bottom of the 6 pm Eastern hour, Jack Cafferty chided McCain for poor environmental voting record in the Senate during the past year. "Yes, he's going to be the next Al Gore, right? I don't think so.... If you look at his record and his absence on, what was it, 15 votes on various environmentally-related pieces of legislation in the last year, I think he got one of the lowest ratings by one of the watchdog agencies of any member of Congress, as in zero." Of course, the "absences" Cafferty referred to is largely explained by the Arizona Senator’s campaigning for president. The same "watchdog agency" that rated McCain, the liberal League of Conservation Voters, noted that both Obama and Clinton’s ratings decreased between 2006 and 2007, due to absences from votes. One wonders if Cafferty will speak out about those.

"The Situation Room" host Wolf Blitzer asked third member of the panel, CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger, "Does he [McCain] have an opening here, Gloria?" Borger responded, "I think he does have an opening. You know, all during the primaries, John McCain has been talking about global warming. I think it's a way for him, believe it or not, not only to attract independent voters, but maybe even -- even some younger voters, who may be Republican and be looking at him on that particular issue."

The full transcript of the panel discussion from Monday’s "The Situation Room:"

WOLF BLITZER: Let's talk about this and more with our senior political analyst Gloria Borger, our own Jack Cafferty, and our CNN senior analyst Jeff Toobin. Jack, you know, in a lot of states, there are more registered independents, if you will, than Republicans or Democrats, and McCain sees an opening here on this issue of global warming.

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterCAFFERTY: Yes, he's going to be the next Al Gore, right? I don't think so.

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: I just -- you know, it's an interesting tactic, but, if you look at his record and his absence on, what was it, 15 votes on various environmentally-related pieces of legislation in the last year, I think he got one of the lowest ratings by one of the watchdog agencies of any member of Congress, as in zero. So, you know, it's trying to be all things to all people, but I don't know if it's going to fit so well on Senator McCain.

BLITZER: Does he have an opening here, Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he does have an opening. You know, all during the primaries, John McCain has been talking about global warming. I think it's a way for him, believe it or not, not only to attract independent voters, but maybe even -- even some younger voters, who may be Republican and be looking at him on that particular issue.

BLITZER: He makes it clear he believes there is this problem, Jeffrey, called global warming, in marked contrast to a lot of other Republicans out there who aren't yet convinced that this is a serious problem.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, you know, this story illustrates just how low the bar is for Republicans on the environment.

(LAUGHTER)

TOOBIN: You know, the fact that he acknowledges global warming is seen as a big advantage for him, but it's like acknowledging gravity. It is a scientific fact.

(LAUGHTER)

TOOBIN: Now, the real issue is not whether it exists. The question is what to do about it, and, in that area, he's not as far as to the right as Bush is, but he's pretty close. So, the substance is -- is a little weak, but I think it's a smart political move for McCain, and he's going to do it.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: And he's signaling that he could work with a Democratic Congress on this issue, if he had to.

CAFFERTY: He will have to.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center