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Rand Paul Says Hillary Clinton's Focus on Climate Change Shows She Lacks 'Wisdom' to Be President

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Last week, Hillary Clinton spoke at the National Clean Energy Summit, calling out climate deniers and saying that the impacts of climate change are "the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face."

Rand Paul says climate change isn't all that consequential, perhaps because most far-right voters don't think it's real.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Rand Paul, apparently escalating the 2016 presidential campaign early, attacked her comments, saying on Fox News that they prove she doesn't have the wisdom to be president.

He said, "For her to be out there saying that the biggest threat to our safety and to our well-being is climate change, I think, goes to the heart of the matter or whether or not she has the wisdom to lead the country, which I think it’s obvious that she doesn’t. I don’t think we really want a commander-in-chief who’s battling climate change instead of terrorism."

But the problem for Paul is that the accepted wisdom is virtually all on Clinton's side, not his. Many experts see fighting climate change and fighting terrorism as intertwined—including those at the U.S. Department of Defense.

Think Progress points out that the Defense Department's 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review says climate change is a “significant challenge for the United States."

The Defense Department's report says:

The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions—conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.

In addition, The New Republic writes that Daniel Chiu of the Defense Department testified to the Senate Foreign Relations committee in July, saying "The effects of the changing climate affect the full range of Department activities, including plans, operations, training, infrastructure, acquisition, and longer-term investments. By taking a proactive, flexible approach to assessment, analysis, and adaptation, the Department can keep pace with the impacts of changing climate patterns, minimize effects on the Department, and continue to protect our national security interests."

Paul is a member of that committee, although it's unclear if he was at the hearing. But Paul is most likely looking at something more compelling to a Republican presidential hopeful than facts. A poll in May found that only 36 percent of mainstream Republicans and only 23 percent of Tea Party Republicans—those mot likely to vote in a primary—accept scientific findings about climate change.

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