GOP pollster Frank Luntz, offering testimony to Senate Democrats last week.

The Jolt: GOP pollster says climate change is real, and here’s how to talk about it

Earlier this month, we told you of the decision by the state Public Service Commission, a five-member panel of Republicans, to require Georgia Power to generate more energy from the sun.

But missing from this solar power debate was an acknowledgement that climate change -- and the need to reduce the amount of carbon we put into the air – has made the shift necessary.

Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, the PSC chairman, told us that the science of climate change was beyond his pay grade. Fellow solar advocate Tim Echols told us that the phrase had become “weaponized” and had become “a trap for Republicans.”

Both might have been reading from the memo written in 2003 for the George W. Bush administration by GOP pollster Frank Luntz, on how to address the issue of “global warming” being raised by some environmentalists. First, Luntz suggested calling it “climate change” instead. Also:

"The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science. Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community.

“Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly.

"Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate."

Luntz has now changed his mind.

“America believes climate change is real, that it is man-made, and that both political and business leaders need to do more, right now, to address it, Rising sea levels, melting ice caps, tornadoes and hurricanes more ferocious than ever. It’s happening,” the pollster told a special hearing called by Senate Democrats last week.

Luntz endorsed a May 2019 poll conducted by his old firm – he is no longer connected with it – that found 69% of Republicans worried that their party’s see-no-evil stance on climate change hurts it with younger voters.

The poll also showed support, even among Republicans, for a carbon tax. From his prepared testimony:

An increasing number of Americans are willing to pay, or pay more, but only if that action has, and I quote, a “meaningful, measurable impact” on climate change. Support for a carbon tax is significant, but it melts away if it is shown to have little or no impact on climate change.

Luntz offered to help Democrats make climate change a bipartisan issue, and offered them some advice on how to talk about – advice that would also be useful here in Georgia. Again, from his written testimony:

For example, sustainability is the buzzword of environmentalists, but sustainability communicates the status quo. What Americans really want, and I quote, is a “cleaner, safer, healthier world.”

Another example is the focus on the consequences of inaction, when what the American people really want to know are the benefits to our health, our safety and our economy if we take action now. Frightening people is easy, but it paralyzes them. Telling them how they will personally benefit is a much more effective call to action.

From the science website eos.com:

Even if scientists are wrong about climate change, Luntz said, “if we do this right, we get cleaner air, we get less dependence on foreign fuels and enhance national security, we get more innovation in our economy and more jobs, and [we] create new careers.” On the other hand, “if the scientists are right, we get all of those things and begin to solve what could be the most catastrophic environmental problem that any of us have ever faced. It’s a pretty good bet to me, because it’s a no-regrets strategy.”

That’s how you admit that climate change is happening. That’s how you talk about it.

***

Vice President Mike Pence is set to speak Friday at a conference in Atlanta organized by conservative pundit Erick Erickson. The two are expected to talk on stage about President Donald Trump’s re-election plan. Erickson has for years organized events for grassroots conservatives. Last year’s was in Texas.

In 2015, at a gathering in Atlanta that served as a beauty pageant for GOP presidential candidates, Erickson made when he banned Trump – who had attacked Fox News host Megyn Kelly using menstrual-related language. Erickson, a WSB Radio host, abandoned his opposition to Trump and has now endorsed the president’s 2020 bid.

Beyound the Erickson event, Pence will also participate at a Teneo convention event with his former chief aide, Georgia operative Nick Ayers.

***

The Washington Post reports that House Republicans plan to have their annual September retreat at a downtown hotel in Baltimore, a city that President Donald Trump denounced this past weekend as a “very dangerous & filthy place.” Even so, the president is expected to make an appearance.

This could make for some interesting protests. And for some reason calls to mind the 1971 horror flick called “Willard.”

***

Speaking of Baltimore, conservative activist Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., spent some time at the White House on Monday huddling with President Donald Trump and several African American pastors -- apparently a countermeasure to blowback generated by the president’s condemnation of Baltimore and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. A vocal Trump ally, King said the president “is concerned about the whole nation, about everybody in the nation.” She told reporters:

“I want us to remember, that we’ve been designed to be brothers and sisters. One member of the human race. Not separate races. The same blood. And so I was just rejoicing to be able to pray here today. And to believe that America will come together.”

She also tweeted an old picture of Trump and Rev. Al Sharpton together, along with a psalm: "For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it..."

***

We told you about U.S. Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson are traveling to Ghana and Italy with Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first part of their August recess.

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe, is opting for the southern border. The House Freedom Caucus member posted several videos Monday from detention camps near El Paso.

"The falsehoods from @HouseDemocrats that migrants don’t have access to basic supplies like toothpaste and soap are flat out wrong. Today, I stood in a warehouse full of these items,"said Hice.

***

Lindsey Acciarito, who works for a nonprofit that assists veterans and military spouses land civilian jobs, has announced for the Senate District 45 seat in Gwinnett County being vacated by Renee Unterman.

Unterman, a Republican, is running for Congress.

Acciarito didn’t say so in her press release this morning, but she is a Democrat. From her issues page, on the topic of health care:

All Georgians should have access to healthcare and maintain control over their medical decisions. The government should not be making choices for women about their bodies.

And on guns:

We must make an effort to protect law-abiding citizens; our elected officials have remained paralyzed for too long. I support more comprehensive background checks for all gun transactions. I also support the efforts of law enforcement professionals in preventing domestic abusers from owning firearms; we need a state law that complements federal law already in place. 

***

There are many ways to do journalism. This one, from “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams, isn’t one of them. From the Daily Beast:

In a message to his more than 300,000 Twitter followers, Adams urged any Gilroy shooting witnesses to make an account on an app he co-founded that allows experts to make money by discussing issues over video calls. By signing up for the app, “Interface by WhenHub,” Adams claimed, witnesses could “set your price” and make money by selling interviews about the mass murder, while Adams’ company took a 20 percent cut.

***

Some big Democratic donors are gathering on Aug. 21 in Atlanta to host a fundraiser for North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. The hosts including former gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter, former Georgia attorney general Thurbert Baker and Charlie Bailey, the party’s nominee for attorney general in 2018.

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