Henry Barbour, one of five Republicans tasked with rethinking GOP strategy following the 2012 elections, refused to say if climate change is one of the areas his party should address, stating that “there’s certainly two sides to every issue.”
During a Thursday appearance on NPR’s On Point to discuss the Republican Party’s post-election regrouping, Barbour fielded a question from a caller who lamented that Republicans have largely ignored climate change, often “denying that this is a problem.”
“Well, with the Republican Party what it has to be about is fixing problems,” Barbour, a Mississippi Republican National Committee member, responded. “Whether it’s dealing with the environment or whether its dealing with security, education, or spending, or whatever it is.”
Tom Ashbrook, the program’s host, pressed Barbour on the caller’s question.
“But you can’t fix them unless you acknowledge them,” Ashbrook said.
“There’s certainly two sides to every issue and I’m not going to try and sit here and give you a position on climate change,” Barbour responded. “As a party, we need to focus on ideas that help improve the country, whatever they might be, we need to focus on ideas that unite us, not divide us.”
Barbour, the nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), was elected to his RNC post in 2005 and has held key roles in several GOP campaigns. Last month, RNC chairman Reince Priebus appointed Barbour to the Growth and Opportunity Project, a task force aimed at broadening the party’s appeal and examining where candidates went wrong during the 2012 cycle.
“They will review past practices and make critical recommendations for the future with input and insight from Republicans across the country,” the project’s website reads.
“We’ve got to articulate our policies in a way that people can tell the benefit of what we’re trying to do and that it’s personal,” Barbour told Bloomberg of his role on the committee. “Democrats have been much better, I think, at connecting with people in that way. And too many times, I think we sometimes come across as the accountant.”
Recent poll data shows that climate change is one area where voters from both parties are concerned. An Associated Press-GfK poll released last month found that 83 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans acknowledged rising temperatures, with 80 percent of respondents stating that global warming is a serious problem.
Listen to Barbour’s comments below, starting around 26:40.
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