Jon Huntsman: Science Isn't a Conspiracy

Former GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman accepts climate change and evolution, and says the party is jeopardizing its future by opposing science.

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Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman speaks to employees during a campaign stop at Goss International in Durham, New Hampshire.

One of the reasons the moderate sounding Mormon former governor the GOP nominated for president this year is Mitt Romney not Jon Huntsman is that the latter very pointedly broke with his party on climate change in particular and respect for science more generally (Romney, on the other hand, changed his stance on the issue—political scientists are pretty sure the change was manmade).

Huntsman's failed presidential bid hasn't changed Huntsman's view or quieted him. Speaking at the Bipartisan Policy Center this morning, Huntsman recounted the thoughts he had recently when he spoke at Johns Hopkins University:

I looked at that crowd and I thought—you know, we encourage all these young people to go out and get a good education and find a cure for cancer, to crack the code on genomics, and find new energy technologies—we reward that. That's the ultimate goal that we have for our young people. And it seems in today's environment when you issue a scientific judgment, the political class can say 'Well that isn't so. That's a conspiracy.' I don't know a whole lot of physicists in Congress … or a lot of climate scientists in Congress. Yet the whole discussion on a lot of these things falls victim to politics as opposed to being in the scientific lane.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on energy policy.]

Of course one of the early problems Huntsman had in his nomination bid was the perception that he was insulting his party's base when he did things like Tweet that, "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." He went on to say that the GOP can't sustain itself as an anti-science party. And then of course he went on to an early exit from the presidential field.

"As policymakers let's take our cues from those who actually do this for a living and who benchmark their work based on peer review based upon empirical benchmarks," he said today. "We should be forging policies around that reality."

That's just crazy talk.