GOP Candidate Calls Woman ‘Young and Naive’ for Asking Question About Climate Change

Pennsylvania’s Republican candidate for governor insulted a woman for asking him a question about campaign contributions and their potential relationship to his position on the issue of climate change. Critics are assailing the remark as sexist.

State Senator Scott Wagner was taking questions from the audience at a town hall event in Glenside, Pennsylvania on Wednesday evening. Rose Strauss introduced herself and then posed the following question:

I’m really concerned about the future of our country. Two-thirds of Pennsylvanians think that climate change is an issue that needs to be addressed. But you have said that climate change is the result of people’s body heat–and are refusing to take action on the issue. Does this have anything to do with the $200,000 you have taken from the fossil fuel industry?

To which Wagner replied, “Rose, you know that I appreciate you being here. You’re eighteen-years-old. You know, you’re a little–you’re a little young and naive.” At this point the audience divulges between apparent partisans who laugh and applaud the derisive comment and a small group of people who implore Wagner to answer the question.

“Are we here to elect a governor or are we here to elect a scientist?” Wagner continued. “I’m here to be the governor. Now, Rose, I understand and I appreciate, you know, the questions. But I have one for you, Rose. Climate change is important. We all hear about it.” The GOP gubernatorial candidate then began talking about sinkholes in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and how he’d rather focus on issues like that than climate change.

At no point did Wagner attempt to answer the question about his controversial climate change positions viz. his donors.

Strauss’ comment and question about “people’s body heat” is an apparent reference to a keynote speech Wagner gave to natural gas advocates in March 2017. During that speech, Wagner downplayed the need for political action on climate change while offering the following non-scientific explanations for climate change:

I haven’t been in a science class in a long time, but the earth moves closer to the sun every year–you know the rotation of the earth. We’re moving closer to the sun. We have more people. You know, humans have warm bodies. So is heat coming off? Things are changing, but I think we are, as a society, doing the best we can.

Strauss is a volunteer with Sunrise Pennsylvania, a group which describes itself as dedicated to stopping climate change while creating green jobs in the process. In a tweeted statement, Sunrise Pennsylvania blasted Wagner’s response, noting, “Behind Scott’s patronizing sexism are hundreds of thousands of dollars from the fossil fuel industry.”

Law&Crime reached out to the Wagner campaign for comment on this story, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.

[image via Scott Wagner for Governor; video courtesy Sean Kitchen]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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