Sen. James Inhofe endorsed Rick Perry this week, and he’s not wasting any time going after the competition. In an interview with the Washington Times’ Ben Birnbaum, Inhofe took a swipe at Romney’s wishy-washy position on anthropogenic climate change:
“I think people need to make up their minds,” said Mr. Inhofe. “You know, we’ve had a lot of time, 10 years we’ve been thinking about this. We ought to decide where we are and not try to play both sides.” …
Mr. Inhofe, who says he knows Mr. Romney personally and likes him “very much,” speculated that Mr. Romney was trying to “broaden himself to capture part of the other side.”
“I think it’s not a good political move,” Mr. Inhofe said. “It doesn’t show a lot of strength when you don’t have a firm opinion on an issue that’s been around for 10 years.”
Inhofe’s specifically referring to Romney’s comments in New Hampshire yesterday, when the candidate refused to take a firm stance on the issue.
“Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that, but I think that it is,” Romney said. “I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.”
Climate change became an issue in the GOP race after Perry outed himself as a skeptic. Jon Huntsman’s campaign immediately went on the attack, branding Perry as “anti-science.” So Romney’s caution on the subject is somewhat understandable. At the same time, skepticism of man-made climate change is a widely-accepted idea in the Republican Party, and it has been for some time. The American public is also increasingly rejecting the idea global warming is a result of human activity. A Gallup poll released earlier today showed the number of Americans who believe humans are fully or partially responsible for global warming has fallen from 61 percent in 2008 to 50 percent this year – a significant 11-point decline in just two years.
Romney’s trying to play the more centrist candidate in contrast to Perry’s brash southern conservatism. But his reputation as a political opportunist and a flip-flopper is already a liability, and refusing to choose sides on an issue like this will only leave him open to more attacks.