The top 10 Republican candidates for president spent 120 minutes of their first primary season debate Thursday night in Cleveland duking it out over issues like foreign policy, national security, immigration, abortion and the economy.
Missing from the conversation, however, was climate change. Not a single substantive question was asked by Fox News moderators about global warming or energy. Except for a brief nods to the Keystone XL pipeline and undefined "out-of-control regulations," the candidates didn't raise the issue themselves either.
"Climate change is just not a huge concern in the Republican party," said Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist who worked on John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. "Maybe that will change in the general election, but I expect for the primary it will continue to be a non-issue."
O'Connell, the Republican strategist, said GOP candidates may be purposefully avoiding the issue until the general election in order to attract moderate and independent voters who may be more supportive of climate action than the conservative voters who typically dominate primaries.
"While this isn't a very big issue among Republicans, it is among Democrats," he said. "Not talking about it now allows them to massage their statements if they have to scooch to the left."