Return of the Conservation Candidate

from Wildlife Promise

Derek Brockbank is in Iowa, following the 2008 Presidential Candidates.

I went to two campaign rallies tonight (well, three, but I got to the Obama rally right as it finished, so I don’t count that) and I think momentum is building toward a conservation platform. Maybe not yet as a number one issue, but I think the era of candidates ignoring the environment may be over.

The first rally was for John McCain, which was overflowing. Held at their campaign office, it was wall-to-wall people with many standing outside and very few leaving despite McCain being a half hour late. With McCain surging in New Hampshire and being endorsed by the Des Moines Register, I think he could be the surprise of Iowa after being written off months ago. And I’m not the only one who thinks that: also at the event were Tim Russert, Brian Williams and George Stephanopoulis, as well as Sky News (U.K.) and the San Francisco Chronicle with whom I chatted while waiting for the candidate.

McCain has not made huge issue of global warming on the campaign trail, but he is the only Republican candidate to regularly address the issue on the stump and is the only Republican candidate to have strong credentials in looking for solutions–seven years ago he co-authored the first comprehensive global warming legislation in Congress.

The second rally was for John Edwards, and I’ll be honest, I went because John Mellencamp was playing (and he played a heckuva set), but Edwards fiery rhetoric is always inspiring. Before John Edwards even got a chance to speak, Elizabeth Edwards praised her husband as a man that would not negotiate with Exxon and corporate polluters. John Edwards then hammered home his populist message of leaving America better off for our children than it is today. Not a bad turnout there either, well over a 1000 people in a packed ballroom.

Iowans think long and hard about their candidates, and it seems the longer and harder you think, the more you begin to recognize the environment–and global warming in particular–is an issue the next president better be ready to address.