As Texas Governor Rick Perry has taken the lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, he has also become a target for some of his opponents struggling to gain a foothold in the race by challenging recent statements he made on global warming and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
At a Wednesday campaign stop in New Hampshire, the nation's first primary state, Perry said that climate change is not being caused by humans.
“I think we're seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists that are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change,” Perry said.
Perry is not questioning the evidence that the Earth is getting warmer. He is questioning whether the warming effect is caused by increased carbon in the atmosphere that comes from burning fossil fuels, as many scientists believe.
John Weaver, the campaign manager for presidential candidate and former Utah Governor John Huntsman, criticized Perry's remarks in a statement to The Washington Post.
“We’re not going to win a national election if we become the anti-science party,” Weaver said. “The American people are looking for someone who lives in reality and is a truth teller because that’s the only way that the significant problems this country faces can be solved. It appears that the only science that [former Massachusetts Governor] Mitt Romney believes in is the science of polling, and that science clearly was not a mandatory course for Governor Perry.”
Huntsman also sent a message to his Twitter account on Thursday, saying, "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy."
His fellow Republicans running for the nomination have also criticized Perry for recent comments he made about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
“If this guy prints more money,” Perry said, referring to Bernanke, “I don’t know what you all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.”
Perry's remarks likely referred to the Federal Reserve's decision to buy government treasury bonds, a process also known as “quantitative easing,” to put more money into the United States' economy.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum said that, although he also disagrees with Federal Reserve policies, Perry's remarks were inappropriate for someone running for the office of president.
Perry's comments “were completely out of bounds,” Santorum said in an interview on CNN. Santorum also compared Perry's remarks to those of Democrats who called for the impeachment of President George W. Bush.
“To me the rhetoric that Rick Perry used was sort of the rhetoric I would expect from a John Conyers, talking about President Bush and saying he should be impeached. We don't do that. We don't impeach people; we don't charge people with treason because we disagree with them on public policy. You might say that they're wrong, you might say lots of things about how misguided they are, but you don't up the ante to that type of rhetoric. It's out of place, and hopefully Governor Perry will step back and recognize that we're not in Texas anymore,” Santorum said.
Rep. Ron Paul, a fellow Texan, also weighed in on Perry's remarks. Paul has long been critical of the Federal Reserve and would like to abolish it.
At a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Paul referred to “this other governor, I can't remember his name,” to laughs from the crowd, and said, “He realizes that talking about the Fed is good, too, but I’ll tell you what, he makes me look like a moderate. I have never once said that Bernanke has committed treason."
After pausing for effect, Paul added, “But I have suggested very strongly that the Federal Reserve System and all the members have been counterfeiters for a long time.”
The most recent national poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports on Monday night shows Perry in the lead with 29 percent, followed by Romney (18 percent), Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) (13 percent), Paul (9 percent), Herman Cain (6 percent), and Santorum and Huntsman (1 percent). The poll's margin of error is +/- 3 percent.