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Mitt Romney Criticized For Slow Motion, Climate-Change 'Flip Flop'

Mitt Romney drew barbs Friday for his continued shift to the ideological right on the climate change issue.

Actually, the criticism for Romney that blew in from both the political right and left came as critics accused him of a full flip flop on global warming.

Romney's political foes jumped on comments he made in Pittsburgh Thursday at a campaign appearance.

My view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.

That contradicts to a degree what Romney said in his book "No Apology" published this year.

I believe that climate change is occurring--the reduction in the size of global ice caps is hard to ignore. I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor.

I am uncertain how much of the warming, however, is attributable to man and how much is attributable to factors out of our control. I do not support radical feel-good policies like a unilateral U.S. cap-and-trade mandate. Such policies would have little efect on the climate but could cripple economic growth with devastating results for people across the planet....

So Romney went from believing that humans contribute to global warming, though he was uncertain how much, to saying he didn't know what contributes to global warming.

Easy to see why some would argue that's a flip flop. In this case it's something of a slow-motion flip flop since Romney appeared in August to be shifting away from the position he stated in his book.

After Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), a well-known skeptic of the notion that human activity is causing climate change, criticized the Republican presidential candidate as "mushy" on the environment, Romney said at a town-hall meeting:

"Do I think the world's getting hotter? Yeah, I don't know that but I think that it is," he said. "I don't know if it's mostly caused by humans."

"What I'm not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don't know the answer to."

So if this is a flip flop, it might better be described as a slow-motion one that's taken a few few months to pull off.

Whatever it is, it was another chance for Romney's rivals to tee off on him since he, once again, drew attention to his reputation as an ideological chameleon.

In a statement, Ray Sullivan, press secretary for Texas Gov. Rick Perry said:

"Mitt Romney's positions change, often dramatically, depending on the audience or location," said Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan. "Voters need to consider the fact that Romney, in one week, changed positions on manmade global warming, capping carbon emissions, and Ohio's efforts to curb union powers."

But Romney's campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul insisted it wasn't a flip flop:

This is ridiculous. Governor Romney's view on climate change has not changed. He believes it's occurring, and that human activity contributes to it, but he doesn't know to what extent. He opposes cap and trade, and he refused to sign such a plan when he was governor. Maybe the bigger threat is all the hot air coming from career politicians who are desperate to hold on to power."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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