Republican Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Scott Wagner called an 18-year-old climate activist "a little young and naive" after her question at a town hall for the candidate, the York Dispatch reported.
Rose Strauss is with the Sunrise Movement — a nonprofit youth climate advocacy group, the paper said — and she reminded Wagner during Wednesday's meeting in Glenside about climate change statements he made last year and questioned donations he received from gas companies.
"Two thirds of Pennsylvanians think that climate change is an issue that needs to be addressed. But you've said that climate change is a result of people's body heat and are refusing to take action on the issue," Strauss said. "Does this have anything to do with the $200,000 that you have taken from the fossil fuel industry?"
Wagner in 2017 said climate change is likely occurring — but perhaps because "we have more people. You know, humans have warm bodies. So is heat coming off?" And his campaign has received $163,750 from the oil and gas industry, according to Vote Smart, a nonprofit political watch dog organization, the Dispatch said.
How did Wagner respond to the climate activist?
"Rose, you know, I appreciate you being here," Wagner answered Strauss. "And you're 18 years old, and you're a little young and naive."
Laughter and applause rolled in following Wagner's jab, and he added, "Rose, let's talk about something else."
But others from the crowd demanded that the GOP nominee answer the question.
At that point Wagner turned away from Strauss and toward the audience in general and asked, "Are we here to elect a governor, or are we here to elect a scientist?"
Here's the clip:
Wagner added that he believes "climate change is important" but then discussed a 2016 Wall Street Journal article about sinkholes and infrastructure problems in Harrisburg, saying they're more crucial issues, the Dispatch reported.
"Climate change is important," Wagner noted, according to the paper, "but I'm more interested in the sewage going into the Susquehanna River."
What did the activist say afterward?
"What he said was patronizing, and I think he was trying to intimidate me," Strauss told the Dispatch. "I could tell it was him being dismissive to me and trying to play down what I was saying."
What did the Wagner campaign say later?
Wagner's point to Strauss "was that it's naive to suggest he doesn't believe in climate change, and that there are things as governor he thinks could be done better to address the issue. He's been balancing efforts to create jobs and care for the environment for decades in his recycling business," Wagner campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo told TheBlaze on Friday.
How did the opposition react?
John Fetterman — the running mate for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf — ripped the GOP nominee on Twitter over his comments toward Strauss, the paper said.
Fake news, ‘naive’ teens better show @realScottWagner the respect he’s due in the climate science community. #FixPA🤪 https://t.co/hp1CNKjNo4— John Fetterman (@John Fetterman) 1532012757.0
.@realScottWagner has had just about enough of this. He’s already settled the science. #FixPA🤪 https://t.co/gfUvFIVzGC— John Fetterman (@John Fetterman) 1532021976.0
Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock, ranted about Wagner earlier this month, calling him Trump-like, a foe of abortion and unions, and someont who doesn't care about the common good.
“What a profoundly bad choice Scott Wagner would be for the residents of Pennsylvania,” Fetterman said, according to PennLive.
The Wagner campaign countered to TheBlaze at the time that “it would be a profoundly bad choice for Pennsylvanians to elect John Fetterman and Tom Wolf, who want to steal the tax savings that President Trump fought hard to provide."