AOC and Sanders launch thinly veiled attack on Biden: 'There should be no middle ground on climate change'

Former vice president is vulnerable to assaults from the left

Andrew Buncombe
Tuesday 14 May 2019 17:43 BST
AOC: 'I will be damned if the same politicians who refuse to act then are going to try to come back today and say we need a 'middle of the road approach' to save our lives'

Progressives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders have launched a thinly veiled attack on Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden, declaring that on the issue of climate change there can be “no middle ground”.

Speaking at Howard University, a traditionally African American college in Washington DC, Mss Ocasio-Cortez and Mr Sanders – on whose 2016 presidential campaign she worked – defended the so-called Green New Deal legislation they are pushing, saying the US must quickly move away from its reliance on fossil fuels.

“How do we take on an industry with unlimited power, money and resources? We need a political revolution,” said Mr Sanders.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez, who has been the main promoter of the resolution in the House of Representatives, criticised “conservatives from both sides of the aisle” who had warned her to go slow on the issue of climate change in order not to scare off moderates.

“We cannot accept anything less than a path to save ourselves, which this is,” she said.

Without naming Mr Biden or others who have long served on Capitol Hill, Ms Ocasio-Cortez said Congress was “first notified by Nasa that climate change was going to threaten my life and everyone here’s life to come, and they did nothing”.

She added: “If the same politicians who refused to act then, are going to try to come back today and say we need to have a ‘middle of the road approach’ to save our lives, that is too much for me.”

While Mr Biden has a clear lead over all the other 21 Democrats seeking the party’s nomination, he is vulnerable to attacks from the left on issues such as climate change and for his reliance on major corporate donors. Over the weekend, Reuters reported that some within Mr Biden’s campaign had suggested he find a middle ground on the issue, one that could appeal to “both environmentalists and the blue-collar voters” who elected Donald Trump.

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Mr Biden and his campaign team have claimed the article was not accurate, and sought to stress the 76-year-old’s environmental credentials.

Speaking at a campaign rally in New Hampshire, which comes second in the primary election calendar, he said he had introduced the first bill addressing climate change in the 1980s.

“I said, we have an existential threat, we are in a situation where, if we don’t act quickly, we’re going to basically lose almost everything we have,” he told the crowd. “And that’s exactly the case. It’s even more urgent now.”

The issue highlights the challenge Mr Biden has in overcoming a sense among some younger voters that he is out of touch and that his time is over. A number of other 2020 contenders, including Elizabeth Warren, support the Green New Deal legislation, currently snowballed in Congress, which seeks to move the US from fossil fuels within a decade and guarantee jobs in industries such as renewable energy.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez and Mr Sanders were scathing in their attacks on the way oil industry lobbyists obtained power and influence.

“In the last decade alone the oil and gas industry has pumped more than $700m of campaign contributions into federal, state and local elections,” said the Vermont senator. “In that same period, they spent more than $1.5bn dollars lobbying Washington. This is what we are up against.”

Speaking at a pizza restaurant in the New Hampshire city of Hampton, Mr Biden said he would provide “a major speech in detail” that outlined his views on climate change by the end of the month.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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