Will Mitt Romney flip-flop on climate change if he’s elected president?
Some big donors are betting on it.
Romney and his super PAC have taken millions from funders with strong green streaks — despite the fact that the former Massachusetts governor has run to the right in the primary, proclaiming doubts about global-warming science and trashing President Barack Obama’s greenhouse gas emissions policies.
Julian Robertson, founder of the Tiger Management hedge fund, helped put cap-and-trade legislation on the map with $60 million in contributions over the past decade to the Environmental Defense Fund.
Now, Robertson has given $1.25 million to Romney’s Restore our Future super PAC, plus the maximum $2,500 to the Romney campaign.
Other green-minded financial backers may not be giving as much as Robertson, but they still share the view that climate-change science and a solid environmental agenda wouldn’t be a lost cause if Romney won the White House.
“My feeling is that on these issues that people learn,” said former Gov. Thomas Kean (R-N.J.), who maxed out last fall to Romney with a $2,500 check. “And my hope is, as time goes on, he will understand that not everybody agrees on how you deal with these issues, but I hope he will agree with 99 percent of the scientists who believe this is an issue that we have to deal with.”
As president, Kean said he hoped Romney could duplicate his Beacon Hill successes in building coalitions with Democrats on issues such as energy and the environment. In addition, Kean noted that Romney wouldn’t face the same gridlocked climate debate of recent years, in large part because of the boom in domestic natural gas production that’s helped lower the nation’s greenhouse gas emission levels. “The whole game has changed,” Kean said.
Rob Sisson, president of the Republicans for Environmental Protection, said he’s scraping together personal funds to write a check to the Romney campaign after getting a chance to meet him for the first time last month during a town hall campaign stop in Kalamazoo, Mich.
“I think his record as governor was pretty good as far as Republicans go,” said Sisson, who also gave $1,000 last June to Jon Huntsman’s campaign. “I really get the sense from him and the folks around him with whom I’ve spoken that as president he’d really look at each situation, gather the data and really make a decision that’s best for the country.”
“If that goes against the grain of how he’s campaigning now, so be it,” Sisson added. “He’s going to be driven by data and facts and not emotions and getting pushed into one corner by one faction of the party.”
Among the other green Romney donors is Texas businessman and philanthropist Trammell S. Crow, founder of Earth Day Dallas and winner of the Republicans for Environmental Protection’s Green Elephant Award in 2007. Crow and his family have given $71,000 this cycle to Republicans, including $15,000 to the Republican National Committee and $5,000 to Romney, according to donation data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
“I am voting for Mitt Romney and I believe in global warming,” Crow said in a statement to POLITICO.
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