Mr. Trump is betting that his uncompromising, unchanging stands will appeal to business-minded voters and people who distrust government. But there is a risk to him, too.
Carlos Curbelo, a former Republican congressman from Florida who has championed a carbon tax to combat climate change, said he believes Mr. Trump’s disregard for the issue and his handling of the coronavirus are becoming linked to part of “the broader character question.”
Such character questions resonate with “not just young voters who have rejected his stance on climate for quite some time but also middle-aged and older voters who now in the context of Covid prioritize leaders who are good crisis managers,” he said.
Mr. Biden’s campaign criticized the president’s gutting of the environmental policy act as a way ”to distract” from Mr. Trump’s failure to deliver an infrastructure plan. “He has failed to deliver any real plan to create jobs and instead is cutting corners to once again ignore science, experts, and communities and reservations entitled to clean air, water, and environments,” read a campaign statement.
In some ways, the debate over climate reflects the broader political realignment in both parties that defined the 2016 campaign: working-class white voters, especially in rural areas, have moved farther from their union Democratic roots to embrace Mr. Trump and his energy policies, while educated, affluent white suburban voters, once staunchly Republican, drift toward the Democrats and appear increasingly open to more ambitious efforts to combat climate change.
“Biden’s pitch may play well with traditionally moderate Republican voters in the suburbs, just as Trump’s policy pronouncements may play well with traditionally more Democratic-leaning voters in other parts of the state, more rural parts of the state,” said former Representative Ryan Costello, a Republican who represented the Philadelphia suburbs.
But pro-business voters may see the danger of a Biden victory as just as high, said Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist.
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