GOP Hopefuls Head To Utah To Win Mitt Romney’s Support
This weekend at least six Republican 2016 hopefuls are heading to Park City, Utah to Mitt Romney’s third annual “E2 Summit” to win the favor of the 2012 Republican nominee. Retreats of this sort that are sponsored by political big wigs are becoming common—in April, many 2016 hopefuls flocked to the “Sheldon Adelson Primary” to win the casino mogul’s financial backing. This weekend Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Lindsey Graham, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and former CEO of HP Carly Fiorina are all expected to vie for Romney’s political backing.
Aside from all the politicking, the weekend sounds a lot like a summer camp. Hundreds of other guests, including prominent GOP donors and political figures, will also attend the retreat and have the opportunity to participate in outdoor “enthusiast sessions” like skeet shooting with Sen. Graham or flag football with Sen. Rubio.
While potential 2016 candidates flocking to win the support of the 2012 nominee is neither particularly surprising nor interesting, the location of the retreat is. Deer Valley, the resort venue of the retreat, has been a vocal supporter of action to address climate change. The resort was one of more than 100 ski areas to sign a declaration citing concerns about climate change and calling federal lawmakers to “seize the American economic opportunity of addressing climate change.” Despite all the evidence supporting climate change and the warnings from these resorts and other American businesses, the majority of Republicans in Congress and several active candidates deny or question the science behind climate change.
The second noteworthy aspect about the venue’s location is Utah’s relationship with public lands. The various outdoor enthusiast sessions will take advantage of the spectacular national forests and other public lands in Utah, but a growing contingent of conservatives have endorsed radical efforts in a number of Western states to give control of America’s public lands to the states, risking having them sold off to the highest bidder.
Utah has led the assault on America’s public lands, passing legislation in 2012 demanding the transfer of America’s public lands to state governments and threatening legal action. With support from a growing group of radical right-wing politicians, these attacks on America’s public lands have gained traction in Congress, most recently with appropriations riders aimed at giving states unprecedented and unchecked powers over national forests and public lands.
Despite the fact that Western voters do not support the transfer of public lands to the states, the 2014 Republican Party endorsed the effort and several 2016 hopefuls—Cruz, Rubio, Graham, and Paul—have all supported the efforts.
BOTTOM LINE: As 2016 contenders flock to Utah to court Mitt Romney and powerful political funders they should take the time to appreciate America’s public lands and reconsider the harmful anti-environment policies they have advocated for.
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