Democrats should stand behind the Administration's proposed power plant regulations, a senior aide to President Barack Obama said Friday, even though the rules have become a political liability for vulnerable Democrats ahead of November's midterm elections.
John Podesta, counselor to the President and one of the Administration's climate policy leaders, told reporters that Democrats should follow Obama's lead on selling the health benefits of the regulations even as Republicans plan on running ads against the changes. The proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency would cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants by 30 percent before 2030.
"I think anyone who wants to go out and talk about the benefits from this rule, do what the President did, visit a children's hospital in their home state," Podesta said at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor. "I think they'll find that the politics is such that they can defend taking action here and the public will support that."
Podesta acknowledged that the emissions rule will be a political challenge for Democrats, particularly in coal-producing states that may determine the balance of the Senate.
" ... There's no doubt that polluters will come after this rule and they'll try to attack it, and try to knock down the rule," Podesta said. "And they'll try to put in squarely put it in the context of the political campaigns that are ongoing in 2014."
Podesta argued that denying the effects of climate change would be a losing argument for the regulations' opponents.
"We think that people who deny the existence of climate change and want to try to run suggesting that they 'really aren't scientists' and 'they don't really get it' and 'they can't really see what's going on around them' and they want to deny the public health effects that pollution is having on our families and children in the country, that's the losing side of the argument," he said. "Anyone who tries to run as a climate denier in 2016 is going to have a hard time running on that nationally."